Hawick Harlequins 26, Berwick 39
WITH the Christmas festivities firmly behind us, Saturday saw a return to competitive rugby for the Berwick 1st XV with a trip away to Hawick Harlequins. Despite the recent amount of rain the conditions were near perfect giving both teams the option of running rugby.
From the whistle Berwick were quick to react and put the Quins under pressure stringing together a number recycled balls to give Michael Brenan the first score of the day with a try out wide on the left wing after only three minutes of play. The conversion was missed by Gareth Hill and gave Berwick a 0-5 advantage.
The restart saw the home team enter the Berwick half for the first time and were dually awarded their first penalty kicking opportunity of the day as the referee adjudged a tackle by David Gilchrist to be high. The attempt at the goal drifted wide on this occasion but it was the home side that maintained the attacking momentum over several stages of play and were rewarded with their second penalty kicking opportunity after Berwick were penalised for hands in the ruck.
The penalty was successfully converted and from the restart the Quins took the play back into the Berwick’s half where a further penalty for the same infringement was awarded and converted giving the home side the leed 6-5 after 19 minutes.
Berwick re-gathered and punished the home side with two further touch downs by Geoff Logan and David Gilchrist, both converted by Gareth Hill giving the leed back to Berwick at 6-19. The Quins restarted and were eager to stay in touch with number of set pieces they forced the visitors to come off side and were given another penalty opportunity only to see the kick go wide of the post.
From the 22 drop out Berwick collected the ball and put together their best passage of play on the day with both forwards and backs linking to release Gareth Hill to score a try and convert the kick to increase the score to 6-26 with 30 minutes played.
The only other scoring opportunity of the half was yet another penalty awarded to the Quins as Berwick continued to commit an offence at the break down. The conversion of which took the score to 9-26 at the interval.
It was Berwick that was given the first penalty kicking chance of the second half as the referee blew the whistle for hands in the ruck by the home side, this giving Gareth Hill a further 3 points as he dually converted. Within the next stage of play the home side were again penalized for the same infringement and in this case the offending player was shown a yellow card. Some may say this was a harsh decision as it was Berwick that had committed the greater number of similar offences in the first half.
As the home side were reduced to 14 men it seemed to lift their efforts with a passage of strong running and support play that saw Gareth Hill forced to carry the ball over and touch down behind the line to save the visitors blushes. From the set piece the ball was won by the Quins and with good quick hands they run in over the line for their first try of the day to take the score to 14-29.
Not to let the home side build on this Berwick were keen to take control once again as Michael Brenan run in for his second try of the day with Gareth Hill adding the additional two points to put the visitors back in control at 14-36.
The game pattern continued with both side committing a number of offences. As the Quins yellow carded player returned to the pitch the referee evened things up showing Berwick’s stand off Jamie Pick the yellow card rotating the advantage in favour of the home side.
With the home side encouraged by the strong vocal support they strung several stages of attacking phases together that required a last ditch try saving tackle by Michael Brenan to hold the Quins out. However the ball was recycled and the home side drove over for the reward of their second try of the match, with the conversion being missed the score sat at 19-36.
As Jamie Pick returned to the pitch after sitting out for 10 minutes, the referee had no hesitation in showing his third yellow of the day to Garry Flint for another adjudged high tackle keeping the Berwick side down to 14 players.
With the numbers advantages still in favour of the home side they able to capitalize on their efforts with a third try and conversion reducing the deficit to 26-36.
As the final whistle drew closer and Gary Flint’s return to the field it was Berwick that finished strongest and when the home side were to be caught off side it was time for Gareth Hill to step up and slot over the final points of the match to end the game with a 26-39 win to Berwick.
The result gives Berwick 4 wins out of 4 and keeps them on track for finals day at Murrayfield.
This coming Saturday we return to league action with the short trip away to Duns.
As the two sides have met twice this season already with Berwick coming out on top in both matches, all support will be welcome to encourage the team on for what will be a highly charged encounter.