'˜Ton-up' Berwick run riot with commanding display of power
Berwick RFC 106-3 Livingston
Sometimes in rugby a team high in confidence meets a team low in confidence and the outcome can be devastating.
This was one of those games and Berwick produced 60 minutes of high tempo flat out rugby resulting in 16 tries and 13 conversions for Berwick against a solitary penalty by the visitors.
There was no sign of the one-sided affair which was to follow in the early stages. Certainly, from kick off Berwick looked the busier team with purpose to their work but Livingston held their own and had chances of their own to open the scoring.
Berwick showed more dominance in the scrum, where the visitors were missing some key players but parity in the lineout. Backwards and forwards play went for the first 20 minutes with neither side being able to get any points.
Eventually though Berwick opened the scoring through octogenarian Gareth Hill who benefited from some unselfish play from full back Rory Hindhaugh. The forwards had played a few phases which went out to the backs and quick handling across the field saw Hindhaugh join the line and after drawing the last man he passed outside to Hill who was able to run through clear to the line. Andrew Skeen made his first conversion of the day.
Skeen was to go on and add a further 12 and along with a hat trick of tries amassed a personal point tally of 41 in the game.
The next try came along soon after and this one came from a strong scrum giving the platform for Skeen to run sharply through a gap and with the angle taking him under the posts the conversion was straightforward.
Next up was Number 8 Ali Grieve with a mazy run taking him through for the first of his two tries in the game. The first three scores came in a five-minute spell to give Berwick a 21-0 lead to turn the game completely on its head. There was time for an excellent team try with the ball being passed confidently through the hands with Duncan Hardie using his towering height to stretch for the line to touchdown at full stretch. This was the bonus point try and from here on the floodgates opened.
Hindhaugh finished off some superb backline play with support running at its finest to allow him to score the first of his two in the game. There was time for a final try in the first half and it was Grieve who got it. Berwick’s scrum was in total dominance at this stage and it was a pushover try with the number 8 being able to pick up and dot down from close range. With Skeen kicking every conversion the half time score was 42-0. Given how close the first 20 minutes this was a surprising score line.
With the game effectively won by half time the Berwick coaching team brought on all of their substitutes. With so much competition for places this meant that everyone was hungry to stake a claim for a starting spot.
Berwick started scoring within five minutes of the restart and Aidan Rosie deservedly got on the score sheet with a powerful run to touch down. 49-0. Mason Emery got the next one after a strong scrum and quick rucking allowed the flanker to touch down. 56-0. Ryan Wilson claimed the first of his two tries to make it 63-0. Jamie Pick playing in the unfamiliar position of openside flanker was able to score next – 70-0.
The next score came from a clever cross field kick from Skeen which was caught by Hill and with a simple pass to Hindhaugh the full back was able to stretch his legs to run around the opposition to score. Skeen missed his first conversion of the game but it was 75-0. Substitute centre Ben Nicholson added the next to make it 80-0.
Skeen added the next try with a good run in from the half way line and with the touchdown under the posts Skeen was able to make it 87-0. It took until the 73rd minute before Livingston were able to get on the scoreboard and it came from a high tackle but it took the Zero off the board for the visitors. However, it didn’t take long for Berwick to continue the one-way traffic as Ryan Wilson got the next score – 92-3. Jamie Pick scored next – 99-3. It was fitting that Skeen broke the century mark and completed the scoring with the last try of the game to make it 106 -3.
Results like this can be painful to watch but the score line was one which Berwick have threatened at different points in the season without being able to be precise enough with their finishing to actually produce the big score. However, in this game they showed how devasting they can be when everything goes right. There was some lovely backline play with supporting runners full of energy throughout the team.
Livingston will come again, they are too good a Club not to, but with a makeshift travelling team and low in confidence they were ruthlessly slaughtered by the Blacks. Berwick also owe thanks to neighbours and rivals Duns who were able to beat Royal High by a late penalty which allowed Berwick to stretch their lead to 10 points at the top of the table.
Next week Berwick have to return to ground zero again as they face the trip to Linlithgow which has proved a tricky away fixture in previous seasons but after this result they will travel with confidence.