Berwick survive late scare for narrow victory
Berwick 36-33 Linlithgow
Berwick managed to survive a late fightback by Linlithgow to achieve a bonus-point victory at Scremerston on Saturday.
Overnight rain made the playing conditions damp under foot and whenBerwick came in from the side referee Colin Reavley awarded the visitors a penalty which Linlithgow full back Jack Frame kicked confidently.
Linlithgow continued having the better of the early exchanges with Berwick struggling to gain possession. As a result the defence was put to the test as the visitors exerted the early pressure.
However, the Berwick pack sorted themselves out and through a well worked maul moved up field, with the result that Gareth Hill was able to jink inside the defence and race over the whitewash to score Berwick’s opening try. Jamie Pick duly slotted the conversion to give Berwick the lead at 7-3.
Linlithgow stuck to the task of taking the game to Berwick with their backs looking threatening. The pressure paid dividends when a solid lineout was claimed and then Berwick missed the tackle to allow the inside centre the space to break through and score under the posts. The simple conversion made it 7-10 to Linlithgow.
The game swung back towards Berwick again when Hill finished off a polished move by faking the dummy pass to give him the space to nip through to touch down. Pick added a very good conversion in the conditions to make it 14-10 to Berwick.
The pendulum swung back to the visitors as they slotted a penalty to bring them to within one point at 14-13. Berwick’s scrum was proving a powerful weapon which Linlithgow had no answer to and for the second week in a row they were awarded a penalty try. Tom Jackson was too powerful for his opposite number and forced his opponent to take desperate measures by taking the scrum down. The infringement was blatantly obvious and referee Reavley marched under the posts to give Berwick the score. Pick added the extras and Berwick were in front 21-13.
However the first half ended with Frame hitting a solid penalty over the posts to make it 21-16 at half time.
Berwick started the better after the break and it wasn’t long before the next score came along, courtesy of Adam Hardie. Pick was unlucky to see his conversion attempt come off the posts but Berwick were in front 26-16.
Berwick’s scrum was rampant now and not long after they got another push over try. This time it was number eight Andrew Forrest who was the beneficiary. Pick added the conversion and Berwick were comfortably in the lead at 33-16.
Berwick looked to have the game won at this point but a dogged and determined Linlithgow showed great spirit to get back into the game. A chip over the top saw their the winger nip in to get the touch down. A fantastic conversion from out wide by Frame closed the gap to 33-23.
Linlithgow had the game by the throat at this point and duly scored another try. This came from a poor Berwick lineout which allowed the ball to be turned over. The conversion was added and it was 33-30 to Berwick.
With the crowd in a state of disbelief the game was levelled as Berwick gave away a penalty which the full back duly notched to make it 33 all with ten minutes to go.
As the match moved into the closing minutes Pick slotted a penalty with quiet efficiency to edge Berwick 36-33 in front, but there was still time for more drama, Frame missing a kickable penalty with the last play of the game.
There was tangible relief when the referee blew the whistle to finish the game off straight afterwards to give Berwick the closest of victories.