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GLEEFUL Gary Parker waltzed off of the Murrayfield pitch and declared: "We stole the cup."

The Gala player-coach had just led his side to Tennents Velvet Cup glory with a last-gasp 8-3 defeat of Kelso.

And his make-or-break gamble helped the Borders side to sneak to the title after being under the cosh for 75 minutes.

Realist Parker said: "Let's be fair and honest - we stole the cup.

"If it had been a boxing match it would have been stopped after 60 minutes - but you have to keep playing and I give all the credit to my guys and the way they tackled.

"When I arrived at Gala two years ago we are involved in matches with scorelines like 36-35 and 42-38 and I said to them, 'If you don't give away tries you won't lose games'.

"This was the perfect example of how how that works - although we had to rely on our defence a lot longer than I thought we would have to."

Trailing 3-0 and almost constantly under the cosh for 75 minutes, they snatched the glory with a try and drop-goal by rookie stand-off Chris Paterson.

Paterson's crucial touchdown came seconds after he and skipper Richie Gray chucked the dice in the air by spurning the chance of an equalising penalty.

Instead they opted to kick for touch inside the Kelso danger-zone.

Parker said: "I was adamant we would keep the ball alive and go for the try.

"I told Richie, 'Let's go and win the cup.' It went against all my principles because 85 per cent of the time when you go for touch you don't score.

"We took the brave call - but it paid off. I will always stand up to be counted because I am not scared of failure."

Captain Gray added: "A year ago the frustration of the situation would have got to us and we would have blown up.

"It shows the maturity that has come into the side that we can actually battle on and win the game in the dying minutes like that."

It seemed inevitable that the Clan Paterson wouldn't be able to sidestep the Murrayfield spotlight for long.

Less than six months after Uncle Dunky's bitter departure from the SRU hierarchy, young Chris popped up in style.

By his own admission, the rookie stand-off had been having a stinker of a match.

He said: "I should have scored five minutes before the touchdown, but when I was hauled down just a couple of metres short of the line I was convinced that it wasn't going to be our day.

"Every time we had the ball we seemed to throw it away, either by failing to control it or by giving away a penalty."

Patto's last-gasp heroics earned him the man-of-the-match prize but he confessed: "I don't think I played very well at all.

"The last five minutes were obviously something special but I didn't control things as I wanted.

"I never felt confident. It was not a good performance by me or by the team."

Kelso skipper Graeme Cowe admitted: "We paid dearly for failing to take our chances when we had the upper hand in the first hour.

"We created a few good openings early on and left them hanging. They got one chance and took it."

Coach Bob Hogarth said: "The team did everything I wanted them to - except put the points on the board.

"We were three ahead for 70 minutes, but that was never going to be enough.

"Paterson is a good player and always a threat. All credit to him for taking the one chance that came his way."

Cowe and Co couldn't have hoped for a brighter start as they broke the deadlock in the third minute.

Gala wandered offside in front of their own posts, leaving stand-off Graeme Aitchison with a simple kick.

From then until Paterson's late heroics it was a tense and dour battle with mistakes galore.

Sub Stuart Laing should have crashed in under the bar for Kelso as he latched onto a perfectly-delivered short pass from hooker Keith Thomson - but he spilled it.

Suddenly Kelso began to look jaded, allowing Gala to come much more into the reckoning - and Paterson produced the goods when it mattered.

In a marvellous Tennents Velvet Bowl final, Duns beat their National League rivals Garnock 34-17.

Ewan Jeans' opening penalty had the big Ayrshire band of supporters on their feet but Stuart Barton's conversion of Scott Lindsay's try and a penalty took Duns ahead.

Ally Anderson's try under the posts and Jeans' conversion levelled the score but Anderson was injured in scoring and although he stayed on until the break, his speed was missed.

When Duns' big men - with lock Andrew Miller to the fore - charged on, prop Paul Lyons' try took Duns to 17-10 up at half time.

Duns' Richard Oliver nipped in for a sweet one after the break then David Duncan was on Jamie Stewart's elbow to take a scoring pass.

Jeans' opportunist try and Kurt Jacobson's touchline conversion gave Garnock a glimmer until Douglas Archibald's try sealed Duns' victory.

Boss Barton said: "A lot of credit must go to Garnock for that performance. They made us work really hard for the win."

Garnock president Scott Livingston said: "Duns played some excellent rugby and deserved to take the Bowl but I am proud of our lads who let no one down with a really gutsy performance."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Duncan, Roddy
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 26, 1999
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