McColl late double as Blacks win see-saw game
Berwick 34-21 Penicuik
A more familiar line-up started this game against visitors Penicuik as players made themselves available.
Berwick made a bright start straight from kick off as they retained possession well keeping the ball to move steadily up the pitch. After about 20 phases they were within a few metres of the line.
Berwick then turned the ball over and found themselves defending their own try line after a great break from the big Penicuik backline.
This set the tone for the opening stages as each side couldn’t turn their pressure into points and counter attacking rugby moving play from end to end.
It was Berwick who were able to grab the first points. Lee Douglas kicked downfield and good follow up play from Jamie Pick lead to the ball being pinched by Berwick scrum half Adam Hardie.
Hardie continued his good early season form by darting through a gap and despite some last minute tackles he was able to touch the ball down. Jack Webster started his perfect kicking match by slotting the conversion to give Berwick an early 7-0 lead.
However, Penicuik got points on the board from the kick off as Berwick came up too quickly and the referee gave a penalty for offside. Their full back was able to slot the ball from distance with some style to make it 7-3.
There was then a sense of déjà vu as Berwick’s defensive troubles continued as they again came up too quickly. However the full back this time fluffed the opportunity as the ball cut the grass on its way wide of the posts.
Berwick were defending again but this time it was Penicuik who offended at a ruck. Pick took the quick tap penalty and set off on a pacey run which saw him weave his way passed the slower Penicuik forwards out wide to sprint up the stand side touchline to score. It was a perfect sucker punch try which Webster converted to make it 14-3 to Berwick.
Berwick’s forwards were putting in some hard yards with Geoff Logan, Andrew Forrest and Adam Pearson doing well in the loose to harass the opposition. Berwick’s defence still caused some frustration as they left gaps for the big Penicuik backs to run through.
Eventually the visitors were able to get some points after Captain Gareth Black was pinged for holding onto the ball too long after being tackled. The simple chance was taken and the gap was closed to 14-6.
The gap was closed further as Berwick went to sleep at the kick off which allowed their pack to trundle forward and eventually score a well-deserved try. The conversion was missed but the score was anyone’s at 14-11 to Berwick. In the final moments of the first half Webster was able to slot another penalty to make the half time score 17-11 to Berwick.
The second half continued under the late summer sunshine and Berwick made some changes to give the hard working forwards some relief with Tom Jackson coming on for Stuart Gilchrist.
The heat and changes lead to a more frustrating spell as Berwick struggled to put together a decent performance.
The defensive problems caused by Penicuik continued and in a similar story Berwick couldn’t stop the steady trundle towards the white line with full back McCormick touching down for the visitors. The full back added the extra points to give Penicuik the lead for the first time at 17-18.
Berwick were on the back foot but Webster eased the pressure by kicking another penalty. There were plenty of errors from both sides leading to a scrappy spell before Penicuik retook the lead through a penalty.
The game moved into the last ten minutes with Berwick looking for someone to step up. That man was Tommy McColl who was able to get the ball down under the posts after a series of short sharp rucks and a rolling maul gave him the chance. Webster slotted the conversion to make it 27-21.
There was still time for one more try for Berwick and it was that man McColl again who touched down, stretching over the line for the score.. Webster finished his six from six kicking record to finish the game at 31-21.
* The first team have a week’s break due to Murrayfield Wanderers unable to find a pitch for the game. However, the seconds start their season with a home game against Ponteland (3pm kick-off).