Linlithgow fight-back dents Berwick’s hopes of escaping relegation

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Berwick 10, Linlithgow 10

BERWICK’S attempts to save themselves from relegation took a dent against fellow strugglers Linlithgow at Scremerston.

The temperature was barely above freezing and as a result the game was strewn with lots of errors. The first mistake came when Gareth Hill screwed an early penalty attempt wide of the posts from a kickable position.

Berwick continued to exert the early pressure and narrowly missed taking the lead when a long pass found Hill and Jamie Pick out wide but the move broke down as the Gow defence moved across to shut down the space out wide.

Berwick were still dominating and from a line out the forwards staged a series of attacks through Gareth Black, Paul Pringle and Geoff Logan but none of them could force the ball over the line.

Gow forced their first real attack into the Berwick half of the field midway through the first half and it came from a dangerous break away. The ball broke loose and was thumped a good distance into the Berwick half. Jamie Pick was the covering defender cleanly gathering the ball. However the chasers were quickly on top of him and with the Berwick support struggling to get back he was penalised for holding onto the ball in the tackle. The resulting penalty was well taken and the visitors had established a three point lead over the Blacks, much against the run of play.

Berwick were quick to respond and did so through a well taken try. The forwards created some space and Berwick Number 8 David Gilchrist rampaged up the field causing havoc amongst the Linlithgow defence as they struggled to get back. Eventually he was hauled down but Berwick recycled it well. Eventually the ball reached winger Pick who forced his way over the line. Hill made amends for his earlier penalty miss by kicking the difficult conversion to give Berwick a 7-3 lead.

Another Hill penalty gave Berwick a 10-3 lead.

Linlithgow then upped their game and for the last five minutes of the first half Berwick’s defence was tested as it came under pressure. Some mix ups between the Berwick players meant that they added pressure to themselves when quickly taken free kicks were fluffed but the half ran out with no further scores.

Linlithgow had clearly been roused by their coaching team as they came back strongly into the game after half time. Their first real attack brought the levelling score with only five minutes of the half played. Initially there appeared little danger from a Linlithgow scrum but their forwards made good ground going forward. The ball broke loose and unfortunately Berwick full back Hill attempted a kicked clearance instead of falling on the ball. Hill miscued the kick causing chaos in the Berwick defence.

This chaos was quickly seized upon when Linlithgow’s second row was able to touch down after a good 10 metre rolling maul from the visitors pack. The conversion was added to level the scores at 10-10 with a full 35 minutes of play left.

Unfortunately for the frozen spectators this early excitement proved a false dawn and the remainder of the second half provided few highlights of note. Both sides tried their best but the cold affected the quality on show with the error count rising as the temperature started to drop further. An exception to this was provided late on in the second half when Berwick won a scrum on half way. Berwick number 8 Gilchrist provided the initial break and then Alistair

Grieve entered the line as replacement full back running a great angle to break free of the defence. He made it to the 5m line before being hauled down and Berwick just couldn’t get the points they needed. The game ended with honours even.