Berwick claim bragging rights with derby win over Duns

Dan Law scores for Berwick at the end of the first half.

Dan Law scores for Berwick at the end of the first half.

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Berwick 29, Duns 15

BERWICK claimed their second victory of the season over local rivals Duns with a convincing win in the RBS Border Shield game at Scremerston.

These local derbies always provide plenty of talking points and this game was no exception. Both teams started a little nervously but it was Berwick who settled first as they nearly opened the scoring in the first couple of minutes. Aaron Hall robbed the ball in a ruck and the ball was moved speedily along the line to winger Michael Brennan, who seemed to have the space to score out wide, but a good tackle from the defence ripped the ball out and Brennan knocked on with the try line within spitting distance.

The Blacks were not long to be denied though as they got a well worked try in the 5th minute. Duns gave away a free kick by engaging too early at a scrum on the 10 metre line and a quick tap penalty from Alex Frost allowed him to make ground. Just as the drive was about to stall prop Richard Ayre arrived in support to drive Frost over the line to touch down. The conversion was missed but Berwick had an early lead 5-0.

Duns still couldn’t get their play going and Berwick quickly added a second try through winger Gareth Hill. A solid Berwick scrum set up a platform for the back line to make ground and Hill managed to squeeze past his opposite number to touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed from wide out but Berwick had extended their lead to 10-0.

Duns were able to get some points on the board straight from the kick off as Berwick gave away a penalty for not rolling away from the tackle. This was very well taken by Dale Robinson in the slippery conditions. Berwick still had the upper hand and this pressure brought another try which owed much to the footballing skills of Berwick number 8 David Gilchrist.

A solid Berwick scrum allowed Gilchrist to pick the ball up and with time and space he kicked the ball through allowing Hill to run on, picking the ball up from a yard out and touch it down. Hill may have scored the points but the kick from Gilchrist made the try. Berwick were 15-3 up and the first quarter of the game wasn’t over yet.

Local derbies are never one sided for long and sure enough Duns found their feet after the slow start and they started to exert some pressure. The forward contest became more even with neither side willing to give an inch.

This pattern continued as the penalty count started to clock up. Duns missed three penalty attempts after some lax Berwick play.

The next real try scoring chance fell to Berwick on the half hour mark when some enterprising back play was halted when the final pass to Brennan was deemed to have gone forward by referee David Douglas. Berwick were still dominating in the scrum but they couldn’t find the cutting edge in their back play to make ground forward with play crabbing from side to side.

However the half finished with a flourish when Berwick scored their fourth try through Dan Law. From a scrum the ball was picked up and quickly moved along with a superb pass from Roy McFarlane creating the space out wide. Law was able to bundle his way over with winger Hill screaming for the ball outside him. Hill managed to convert and the half finished with Berwick 22-3 in front.

Duns came out for the second half in a much more determined fashion putting the Berwick line under pressure right from the restart. Berwick’s defence was solid but they started to give away penalties as the pressure told. Duns were chasing tries and so gave up some kickable attempts. However it was a Berwick mistake which gave the visitors the try they threatened. From a Berwick scrum the ball wasn’t controlled properly and the ball squirted out of the back and with Duns scrum half Stuart Thompson alert to the chance he was able to capture the ball and touchdown.

The game entered a bit of a lull with some good Duns attack failing against Berwick’s solid defence. Lady Luck also played her part and Berwick were extremely lucky when Jack Webster had an attempted clearance kick charged down. The ball ended up in the safe hands of Tommy McColl who was able to rescue the situation.

The game was starting to heat up and this boiled over into a few isolated wrestling matches. One such wrestling match allowed Duns the space to close the gap again. After a line out a couple of players were exchanging views as the ball moved across the field and back again. With Berwick’s defence not organised the Duns backline utilised the space to score out wide. Dale Robinson added the conversion to close the gap to 22-15.

The Duns fight back was brought to a shuddering stop with 10 minutes to go. Duns were in the Berwick 22 when Alistair Grieve stole the ball and gave the ball to Hill. Hill’s clearance kick was badly handled by Duns allowing Alex Frost to re-gather the ball just inside the Berwick half. Frost was able to break a weak tackle and set off for the Duns line with the cover frantically trying to get within touching distance. Frost was able to keep going and scored under the posts. The conversion extended the lead to 29-15 and broke Duns hearts.

Hearts might have been broken but the spirit wasn’t and the final ten minutes consisted of Duns pressurising the Berwick defence, but they couldn’t find a way through and the game ended 29-15.

Afterwards Berwick president Bryan Spiers commented “It’s always nice to win a local derby like this and I think great credit goes to both sides for providing a typical blood and guts encounter. Our forwards did well especially in the scrum and the backs just had the edge today to convert the pressure into points. I am delighted with the win and our run of form.”


Duns: Dale Robertson (captain); Ross Turner, Andy Hamilton, Neil Graham and David Hutchison; Keiran Wilkinson and Stuart Thompson; Scott McCraw, Cammy Hill, Andrew Connor, James Thorburn, Stewart Cockburn, Chris Blaikie, Scott Lindsay and Richard Burns. The replacements were Allen Whellans, Chris Williamson, Duncan Budge and Andrew Baxter.

Berwick: Dan Law; Gareth Hill, Roy McFarlane, Tommy McColl and Michael Brennan; Jack Webster and James Patterson; Richard Ayre, Gareth Black, Gareth Clark, Geoff Logan, Jamie Young (captain), Aaron Hall, David Gilchrist and Alex Frost. The replacements were Richard Hume, Tony McDougall and Alistair Grieve.

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