Bonus point win as Berwick beat Linlithgow at Scremerston
Berwick RFC 39-14 Linlithgow
Linlithgow were the visitors on Saturday to Scremerston as Berwick looked to maintain their recent winning streak.
The visitors had a makeshift back-line to it due to injuries and players being unavailable and this was to prove the difference between the two sides.
The ground ws again looking in fabulous condition and Berwick started much the better of the two sides with an early try from Jamie Pick settling any early nerves. It came after a solid scrum from Berwick provided the platform for the backs to launch an attack.
With the Linlithgow defence up quickly, they were undone by a neat grubber kick from Andrew Skeen which was latched onto by Jamie Pick who picked up and finished off the move. The conversion was missed by Skeen but Berwick had the lead at 5-0.
Linlithgow had a decent pack and were winning some ball but couldn’t quite put the phases together to mount any serious attacks on the Berwick try line. They were pressurising Berwick but just couldn’t make the breakthrough. Eventually Berwick were able to keep a hold of the ball and launch their own and fly half Jack Webster was the beneficiary as he claimed a try.
It was a solid play giving him the space to nip through to touch down near the grandstand touchline. The conversion was missed but Berwick looked comfortable with a well deserved 10-0 lead.
After the early scoring the game evened out with Linlithgow themselves looking dangerous especially down the right wing but there was no further scoring until the 27th minute of the first half.
Berwick had been pretty patchy with their ball retention for a long spell before they were able to keep it in hand to move forward. Eventually the ball made its way to full back Rory Hindhaugh who showed some clever footwork to step off his right foot to score a well-constructed and taken try. Skeen found his kicking boots and slotted the conversion to make it 17-0 which was a bit unfair in the visitors who had been holding their own at that point.
The lead was extended before half time when Duncan Hardie earned a great penalty by challenging the player on the ground who held onto the ball to give the infringement in front of the posts. Skeen rarely misses these penalty kicks and duly slotted the points to make the half time score 20-0 to Berwick.
The second half had hardly got underway when prop Darren Goodfellow was yellow carded reducing the Blacks to 14. This extra man lifted the visitors as they started their fightback attempt.
Their extra man advantage paid dividends as Berwick desperately tried to keep them out only for them to let a forward burst over to score. The conversion kick was good and the score was 20-7.
Nerves started to jangle a bit when the visitors added another try only a few minutes after the first to make it 20-14. This second try gave the score line a much healthier feel to it and probably better reflected the evenness of the game up until that point.
However, Berwick didn’t panic and fought back almost immediately by putting the phases together which stretched the visitors defence to allow Scott Owens the chance to convert the pressure into points. Skeen’s conversion made it 27-14 and secured Berwick the bonus point for four tries.
The referee wasn’t finished with the cards and this time he dished one out to Linlithgow and Berwick took immediate advantage by scoring through Tommy McColl. The big number 8 was a peach as he calmly gathered the ball and then bounced off a few of the defenders like a pinball wizard before scoring. The conversion was added and Berwick at last looked relaxed at 34-14 with 18 minutes to go.
Not surprisingly Berwick took their foot off the gas and it wasn’t until the last 5 minutes that they managed to get another score. This came from Gareth Hill who had been having a quiet game by his own standards up until this point. He took the ball on the wing and managed to beat the defence to touch down. Hindhaugh missed the conversion and the game ended with Berwick winning 39 – 14.
This was a mixed bag by Berwick, not helped by the referee’s whistle and the home side’s lack of discipline at times. They couldn’t get any momentum going for spells during the game but when they were able to keep their structure and heads they were able to score.
The pleasing aspect was the ruthlessness in attack where the tries were spread throughout the team. However, the level and consistency of the performance will need to take a marked step upwards in the next game when they visit last year’s champions Hawick Quins on Saturday.