Last gasp loss for Berwick as North snatch a late try for win
Berwick 11-17 North Berwick
The visitors North Berwick continued their promotion push with a narrow victory in the dying minutes of the game to beat the home side. at Scremerston on Saturday.
The heavy rain earlier in the week meant the game was moved to the smaller second team pitch and this did no favours to the expansive Berwick side.
The game started at a terrific pace with Berwick trying to keep the visitors moving around the pitch with fantastic intensity and commitment to both ruck and maul. Jack Webster also kicked with purpose to move play back into the North Berwick half whenever they came over the half way line.
Berwick took the lead after a passage of nearly 10 minutes played at a terrific pace. The try couldn’t have been simpler but it was the pressure and phases beforehand that created the momentum. Gareth Hill finished off a simple backline passing move across the pitch but he did it in style with a stiff hand off on the last defender and then a quick burst of pace took him around to score. Shane Armstrong missed the conversion but Berwick had taken a deserved lead 5-0.
The try seemed to spur Berwick onto an even faster pace with everyone throwing themselves into the tackle and rucks with gusto.
Eventually we got a penalty chance from distance which Armstrong did well to land with the ball making it over the bar with some metres to spare – 8-0 to Berwick.
North Berwick are pushing for promotion for a reason and having regained some composure it was their turn to come at the Blacks.
After Berwick strayed offside they offered them a straight forward chance which they took to narrow the score line to 8-3.
North Berwick continued to go through the phases but a clearance kick from Webster allowed Berwick to find their breath and to relieve the pressure.
Having done the hard part Berwick then lost a try to bring North Berwick right back into the game. It came from a lineout deep in their own half which they won. North Berwick then proceeded to move the ball slowly but steadily back upfield and then just when it looked as if the move would break down a couple of missed tackles up the Berwick right wing saw them score out wide. The conversion was good and they were 8-10 in front.
The match was then held up for several minutes as Berwick unfortunately lost flanker Armstrong with a head knock. The delay allowed North Berwick to regroup again and after the game restarted Berwick’s pace had dropped allowing the visitors to see out the half comfortably. The half time whistle came with Berwick 8-10 behind.
The game restarted with Berwick trying to increase the pace of the game but it was actually a set play which created the first scoring chance.
A tremendous scrum effort earned Berwick a penalty chance. With regular kicker Armstrong off young Rory Hindhaugh stepped up and showing a cool head, he slotted the penalty to edge Berwick in front 11-10. T
he penalty count continued to climb and eventually referee Colin Reavley had seen enough handing out a yellow card to the North Berwick flanker for continued infringements after being warned. As so often can happen though the yellow card seemed to galvanise the visitors and they put together their most sustained period of pressure with them being camped in the Berwick half for twenty minutes.
The Blacks defence though was immense. The defence work has been a star feature of the side all season and everyone again stepped up to the mark putting their arms, legs, bodies in the way of the attackers. Eventually Jamie Pick brought some respite as he managed to strip the ball and break upfield to the half way line.
The minutes ticked away with Berwick holding onto the narrowest of leads at 11-10. In the last few minutes Berwick managed to clear the ball upfield and retained the ball through the phases trying to close the game out but it was not to be. A loose pass went to ground and the North Berwick winger managed to get a boot to it hacking it over the half way line.
The dramatic chase was on with Pick looking favourite to win the chase but just as he was approaching the ball he slipped slideways halting his progress for only a few seconds but it was enough to let the North Berwick winger to hack at the ball again kicking it to the 10-yard line. Pick then lost his footing completely landing on his face and it was left for Lee Douglas to try and chase down his man. There was just too much ground to make up and winger showed good skill to gather the ball up and to touch down under the posts. The conversion as a formality and they had taken the lead at 11-17.
With only a minute left to play Berwick tried to get back but it was just too late and the final whistle went on a hugely entertaining game.
This was a hard-physical game for Berwick which was played at a tremendous pace throughout. With some greater composure they could perhaps have closed the game out at the end but that shouldn’t take away from the commitment on show.
North Berwick knew they had been in a game and afterwards in the Clubhouse they acknowledged that luck had favoured them this time – but it usually does when you are playing well.
The Blacks have no time to dwell on the defeat as they need to pick themselves up for the local derby against Duns this weekend. It is a 2pm kick off at Duns. A good travelling support would be welcomed by the lads so please do try and get along for what should be another classic derby match.
Berwick: 1) Darren Goodfellow 2) Gareth Black- Capt. 3) Gareth Clark 4) Euan Thompson 5) Ryan Wilson 6) Adam Pearson 7) Shane Armstrong 8) Tony McDougall 9) Adam Hardie 10) Jack Webster 11) Jack Dalrymple 12) Duncan Hardie 13) Lee Douglas 14) Gareth Hill 15) Rory Hindhaugh.
Replacements: Jamie Pick, John Nixon, Mason Emery and Tommy McColl.