Berwick rugby march on at top of the table
Linlithgow 3-27 Berwick RFC
After last week’s try-fest, this game was never going to produce the same score line.
Berwick had to shuffle players in the pack due to injury (Adam Pearson) and unavailability (Scott Owens). Lee Douglas and Jamie Pick showed their versatility by moving into the back row with Mason Emery moving into the second row.
The pitch was perfect and with a chill edge to the air, it was typical rugby weather. Linlithgow have been improving after a terrible start to the season and they started with purpose, playing solidly. With both sides evenly matched in the early stages, the first score came from the boot of Andrew Skeen with a penalty after foul play.
Linlithgow then got their own penalty chance which was converted by full back Jack Frame. The first half continued with both sides evenly matched and scoring opportunities being scarce.
The first try only came along on the half-hour mark and it was Berwick who scored it through Alistair Grieve. The big number eight had a terrific game both in defence and attack but the score came from great awareness after a series of drives eventually saw him able to get over the whitewash with help from the pack. The conversion was missed and there was no further scoring in the first half, meaning the half-time score was 3-8.
The second half started with Berwick finding some continuity in their passing which had eluded them in the first. Almost straight from the kick off, Pick and Douglas put pressure on the receiver, allowing the ball to be won back on the Berwick side. The passes along the line allowed Rory Hindhaugh and Gareth Hill to keep the momentum going forward before centre Aidan Rosie demonstrated strong running to plough through the tight defence to score a good team try. The conversion was added by Skeen to make it 3-15.
Play restarted with both sides again showing good defence to thwart any attacks. Linlithgow were lucky not to go down to 14 men with a couple of late tackles going unpunished by the referee, other than a penalty award.
However, Berwick showed good discipline and punished the foul play in the best way possible by getting a try. The ball was able to be moved upfield from the penalty kicks and with forwards and backs working well in tandem recycling the ball, it eventually came to Rosie again who got over for his second try to make it 3-20.
Both sides then cancelled each other out as defences came to the fore. Linlithgow were trying to get back in the game and Berwick were looking for the bonus point try. Eventually it was Berwick who got what they wanted and this was down to the forwards. A good lineout and drive created a prolonged period of rucking and, with good discipline, prop Darren Goodfellow eventually got over the line from close range. Skeen added the conversion to make it 3-27 with a full 22 minutes of the second half to go.
Although there was plenty of time left for more scores, the match ended with neither side making the scoreboard tick over. There were lots of good points coming from this game with substitute Ben Nicholson making some strong runs after coming on in the second half, together with strong defence from everyone.
This was a tight affair with both sides putting plenty of effort into the game. Berwick’s impressive defensive efforts provided the platform to stifle the Linlithgow attacks – Berwick have the best defensive record in the league conceding only 209 points all season and just six in the last two games.
They also have some creativity in the side which allows them to edge out opponents and they just had that bit of extra quality which saw them secure a very professional performance against a good Linlithgow side.
The tough fixtures keep coming though as Scremerston welcome Border neighbours Hawick Quins this coming Saturday with a 2pm kick off. The match will also see the Youth Section being awarded the Mitsubishi Motors Outlander Conference title after defeating Knox/Haddington Rugby, Lasswade High School, Linlithgow Academy, Ross High School and Trinity Academy in a series of tournaments held in the first half of the season.