Murrayfield comeback sparks Berwick to National Shield win

Berwick RFC 57-35 Greenock wanderers

Monday, 29th April 2019, 11:37 am
Updated Monday, 29th April 2019, 11:45 am
Berwick players celebrate their win at Murrayfield.

Berwick completed a remarkable comeback to cap their 50th anniversary season with victory over Greenock Wanderers at Murrayfield in the final of the National Shield.The Blacks trailed 11-35 midway through the second half, but in a late fight back they levelled it up at 35-all by the final whistle, taking the match into extra-time where they went on to win 57-35.A Graham Hogg penalty gave Greenock an early lead before Scott Belles consolidated the advantage with a unconverted try.Jack Dalrymple then went over for for Berwick and an Andrew Skeen penalty levelled it up at 8-all. Penalties from Hogg and Skeen then saw the score move on to 11-11, but right on half-time the Wanderers scored a try through Callum Spriddle, Berwick found themselves 11-16 down.At the start of the second half Greenock moved up a gear and a converted try from Chris McCarron made it 11-23 and with Berge adding another score, converted by Hogg, Wanderers moved 11-30 ahead. Belle then went over and at 11-35 it looked as if the trophy was heading back to Greenock.But Berwick, who have already won the East League and the Border Shield this season, found a renewed energy and they fought back in spectacular fashion.Gareth Hill, who was a member of the Berwick team when they last won the trophy in 2003, squeezed over in the corner, converted by Skeen for 18-35.Greenock were then reduced to 14 men with Matt Gray sent to the sin-bin, and Berwick took advantage with three late tries to tie the game up at 35-all and take the match into extra-time.Hill got his second with four minutes to play, beating two defenders to score out wide.Berwick scored again on 77 minutes through replacement Euan Thompson to reduce the gap to seven and set up a dramatic finale. And the comeback was completed when, with the clock in the red, Berwick incredibly scored another try, with lock Scott Owens the man to touch down. Skeen slotted the conversion, much to the delight of the large travelling support, to force extra-time. In extra-time it was all Berwick and as the scoreboard ticked over they eventually piled up 46 unanswered points to complete the fight back and secure the trophy.Skeen gave Berwick the lead for the first time with a penalty four minutes in. Berwick then won a line-out against the throw and Ali Grieve crashed over for a decisive try, making it 43-35 at the turn.In the second period Berwick capped a remarkable comeback as they hit 50 points when Jack Dalrymple intercepted a Hogg pass, raced clear and scored under the posts and Skeen converted.There was still time, however, for Skeen to go over with the final play, which was a fitting end to a quite remarkable 100 minutes.Berwick captain Tom Jackson was delighted with his side’s success. He said afterwards: “I’m so proud of the boys. There wasn’t a time in the game when we felt we couldn’t win that. “We knew Greenock would bring a strong game up front and we tried to absorb that early on but they went ahead. We clawed it back to a draw at full-time and then we kicked on in extra-time. It’s great for the club, it’s our 50th year and we’ve managed to get out of East 1 into National 3 as well so it’s been brilliant.”Scott Owens, who got the late try in normal time said: “Andrew Skeen called it perfectly. He said we would be trailing with 20 minutes to go but our fitness would tell and we would come back to win.”

Pplayers celebrate at the final whistle
Players after the medal presentation.