Berwick 17, Duns 10: The Blacks secured their first win of the season and bragging rights over Duns in a seven-point derby victory at Scremerston in East League Division 1.
Despite a number of missed chances, Berwick manager Owen Weatherhead was delighted with his side’s performance.
“I’m very happy. It is our first win of the season and we thoroughly deserved it. It was a must win game for us,” he said. “In the first half we dominated and they got a pretty lucky score against the run of play, but the boys stuck to it and did what they had to do.”
Weatherhead singled out prop Richard Ayres for his display, and praised all his charges for their passion and intensity.
Duns coach Brian Richardson was less impressed with his side’s performance. “We were well beaten, we beat ourselves really. We played the game in the wrong parts of the field,” he said.
“It is a local derby and the red mist came down a bit, instead of thinking about playing rugby.”
Richardson said his side had ‘butchered’ some scoring opportunities and had to learn from their mistakes. “We got a bonus point and we will take that, because we didn’t deserve it,” he concluded.
The Berwick forwards started the game with an incredible desire and intensity and three times spun the Duns scrum 90 degrees.
The Dingers’ early misery in the scrum was compounded when their prop was penalised for slipping his bind, but Gareth Hill missed the points, having already missed a simple penalty chance in the opening minutes.
After both teams experienced the agony of great breaks being halted by handling errors in the tackle, Berwick’s Dan Law sliced his way upfield only to be stopped when Dale Robertson tackled him high, prompting the referee to issue a yellow card.
Duns were soon counting the cost of Robertson’s absence when James Patterson and Dan Law combined well to send the centre through under the posts. Hill converted to give the home side a 7-0 lead.
Thirty minutes into the game, seven points and a man down, it looked like Duns would be on the back foot for the remainder of the half. But they responded to the adversity with a positive attitude and soon had Berwick pinned back.
Stuart Davies turned the pressure into points, after two of his teammates fell short of the line. The conversion was successful, levelling the scores at half time.
The second half ebbed and flowed throughout, with a leg-pumping run by Berwick’s Lee Douglas matched by a speedy break from David Hutchison on the Duns wing.
A penalty resulting from Hutchison’s run was kicked by substitute Keiran Wilkinson to put the visitors in the lead.
It didn’t last long though, as a fantastic move involving Rob Patterson, Law and Aaron Hall was finished by Alistair Grieve. Hill converted, restoring the lead.
Seventeen minutes into the half Berwick prop Richard Ayre was rather mysteriously sin-binned for dangerous use of the boot during a maul.
But Duns failed to take a great chance with the numerical advantage when hooker Allen Whellans knocked on when he found himself in the backline with a huge overlap.
Seven minutes from time Hill extended Berwick’s lead to seven points when he popped over a penalty from 30 metres out.
The final few minutes were end-to-end, but it was Berwick that came closest to scoring in the dying minutes, with Darren Goodfellow and Jack Webster both failing to cross the line.
Berwick: G Hill, J Webster, D Law, T McColl, M Brenan, R Patterson, J Patterson; R Ayre, G Black, J Young, S Pringle, G Logan, A Hall, L Douglas, D Ainslie. Subs: D Goodfellow, D Eagleton, A Grieve
Duns: N Graham, A Baxter, S Lindsay, K Aitchison, D Hutchison, D Robertson, B Black; S McCraw, A Whellans, A Connor, D Budge, S Davies, C Williamson, D Ivison, R Burns. Subs: B Hamilton, C Blaikie, K Wilkinson, S Thomson.