Berwick go top of the table after emphatic win over Forrester
Berwick RFC 56-3 Forrester
This game was a potential banana skin for the Scremerston outfit. The visitors have had some good results this season and with some changes in the team this was a real test of the squad which they safely navigated.
Eight tries, all converted, saw the home side claim maximum points whilst Border neighbours Hawick Quins defeated Royal High. This combination of results saw Berwick climb past Royal High to move top of BT East League 1.
The pitch was greasy with the rain prior and during the game and so there was a fair number of handling errors but in the end Berwick’s finer quality saw them score some good tries. However, it was the defensive display which created the platform for the win against a never say die effort from Forrester.
Berwick scored the first try in the eighth minute through Outside Centre Jack Dalrymple who had come into the team for Andrew Skeen. Skeen was away at Melrose being inducted into their Hall of Fame for 7’s – a tremendous honour for the Berwick player.
Dalrymple certainly stepped up with a hard-running display making the gain line with every carry and some clever running into the bargain.
His first try came after a good lineout take and carry from the forwards allowed Inside Centre Duncan Hardie enough space to bamboozle the defence with a lovely side step. Then an accurate pass found Dalrymple in support and from there it was a clinical finish. Jack Webster stepped up to convert a difficult conversion from the stand side touch line to make it 7-0.
Forrester were giving the Berwick scrum real problems and eventually the referee awarded them a penalty for Berwick standing up in the scrum. They duly slotted it to close the gap to 7-3.
However, within a few minutes Berwick scored again and in almost a carbon copy of the first the pack secured good line out ball, drove it on and then released the back line. The only difference this time was that Hardie didn’t need any help in touching down after a nifty side step took him clear to score. Webster continued to kick immaculately to make it 14-3 mid way through the first half.
Both sides then stepped up their efforts to claim dominance with the result that play got stuck in and around the half way line. In the end it was Forrester who blinked first in a moment their number 8 will want to forget. From a scrum on their own 22 he got up and moved away from the scrum. Only problem was he left the ball behind! Quick thinking scrum half Cameron Rogerson was on it faster than anyone collecting the ball and dashing over to score near the posts. Webster duly converted and Berwick were 21-3 up at half time.
The second half started like the first with a Dalrymple try and a Webster conversion. This was a much more straightforward affair -a solid scrum and a quick pass from the base of the scrum to Dalrymple allowed him the half chance he needed to score despite the defender’s attention. Forrester were still full of fight and created some chances for themselves but the Berwick defence was well organised and suffocated their attempts.
Stuart Gilchrist came into the scrum and from then on, the scrum looked much more solid at scrum time.
Winger Jamie Pick scored the next try finishing off several phases of play with a touch down very near the touchline. Webster’s golden day off the tee continued as he slotted over a very difficult kick from the touchline.
It was the forwards turn to get on the scoresheet next and it came from flanker Ali Grieve who made a powerful drive showing great strength to get the ball down. Again, Webster slotted the conversion from a difficult angle to make it 42-3.
Berwick’s seventh try came from hard working captain Tom Jackson who galloped home from the 22 as only the front row union can finish with a slide touch down which brought tears to the Groundsman’s eye. This was probably the easiest conversion for Webster who added the extras to make it 49-3.
With five minutes to go Berwick got their last try through evergreen winger Gareth Hill who gathered a flip pass out wide to score from 5m. It was fitting that Man of the Match Jack Webster should finish the scoring to complete a perfect conversion rate with his most difficult kick from near the far side touch line. The game was over and Berwick had given a dominant display. With results going their way elsewhere Berwick top the table.
This was a really complete performance from the full squad. Everyone of them had an influence on the game with the tries being shared through the team.
In the pack they had to work hard in the scrum but their line out was much improved on recent weeks. Tommy McColl and Ali Grieve shared the ball carrying work gaining ground every time whilst the hardworking Emery, Thompson & MacPherson put in a power of tackling to keep the defence watertight. Scrum half Rogerson showed great awareness for his score but acts like an extra wing forward at the breakdown.
Webster had one of those games where everything went right for him and it led to his best game in a Berwick shirt for many years.
The Berwick backline continues to have attacking threat throughout with Hardie, Hindhaugh and Dalrymple cutting through the centre with clever and elusive footwork. On the wings Pick and Hill offer genuine pace and it is fair to say that everyone has had to up their game to keep their place.
Next week’s game will see first play second as Royal High come to Scremerston to see if they can regain the top spot. Kick off is 2pm.
Berwick Bears 54
Durham City 22
The Bears earned a hard fought victory over a stuffy City team.
Durham opened strongly using the route one ball but a quick turn over resulted in the Berwick backs cutting loose with full back Liam Robson going over under the posts and James Thompson converted.
The Bears then had a purple patch with excellent handling passing goforward and hitting the space producing a brace of tries for Jordan Jackson and one for hard hitting Ben Nicholson, Thompson converted both.
Durham for the final 15 minutes pinned the Blacks in their 22, resulting in a converted try and penalty for 26-10 but on the stroke of half time captain Nicholson broke free resulting in a converted try for a 33-10 lead.
Berwick opened up strongly in the second half, going to their passing game, but it was an individual converted try by Thompson for the first points of the half.
Berwick then pinned City in their 22 and after several phases, debutant Colt Dylan Wilson scored under the posts.
Credit to the guests as they showed a never-say-die attitude, running hard, pinning the Blacks in their 22, scoring a brace of tries, one of which was converted.
Durham staged a late rally, but a great interception from Lewis Hall saw the young centre break from just inside his own half to score under the posts. Again, Thompson converted.
Durham were not finished and peppered the Berwick try line, but the best defence work of the season kept them at bay.