Berwick maintained their winning momentum and second place in the table thanks to a hard-fought victory at Scremerston over opponents who are just one place behind in East Regional Division 2.
It was second versus third as the Blacks welcomed Forrester to Scremerston in a game regarded as a good litmus test of Berwick’s promotion credentials.
They withstood some heavy pressure and counter punched with some incisive attacks from both forwards and backs.
Colin Young’s didn’t look as if they would lose the game but it took some time for them to land the knockout try from Tom Riddle.
The win creates a four-point gap between second and third in the table, with Berwick in the promotion places.
The Blacks were full confidence following their demolition of Edinburgh Northern, but as Forrester were tied on points going into the game there was an air of tension as both teams ran out.
Heavy overnight rain had made conditions slippery under foot and in the early exchanges there were some mistakes from both sides as the players slipped and the ball slipped from hands.
Berwick applied the early pressure, but couldn’t claim the first points to calm nerves until nearly the tenth minute.
Just prior to the first score Dan Law had placed a superb kick down the touchline but Berwick couldn’t capitalise.
Berwick didn’t panic though and continued to build the pressure until Forrester gave away a penalty. Gareth Hill slotted the points from a difficult angle giving Berwick a deserved lead.
The home side continued to dominate territory, if not possession, and Dan law came close when he was held up over the line in the 15th minute.
The opportunity came from a well worked lineout which after the initial drive was spun out along the back line that did well to keep the move flowing in the damp conditions. Law just wasn’t able to ground the ball but Berwick had the 5 metre scrum. Despite winning it the forwards couldn’t ground it either and the score remained the same.
The disappointment of coming away without a score was eased soon after when Hill slotted his second penalty to make the score 6-0.
There was a growing feeling of tension amongst the crowd as Berwick couldn’t claim the points when visiting the opposition 22.
This tension increased as Forrester roused themselves and threw their big forwards into the fray. But Berwick’s defence stood its ground with some solid defensive work from Adam Pearson, Jamie Young and David Gilchrist.
Forrester gained a penalty attempt themselves, but the attempt was closer to Newcastle than the posts.
Berwick’s defence was again put to the test when Forrester put together a series of drives deep into Berwick territory.
Respite came from a clearing kick and from the lineout Berwick put together a terrific driving maul which was eventually brought down illegally resulting in Forrester having a man sent to the sin bin.
The same offence might have resulted in a penalty try but referee Paul Lindsay decided it wasn’t a clear cut award.
Berwick couldn’t make the extra man count until near the end of the first half when Ali Grieve scored a great try following another driving maul. Grieve deserved the touch down as he had been prominent in a lot of the good work from Berwick in the first half. The conversion was made by Hill and the half time score was 13-0 to Berwick.
The second half continued as a nervy affair but Hill stretched Berwick’s lead with another penalty after a period of pressure from Berwick.
Hill continued to keep the scoreboard moving when he set off on a mazy run returning a clearing kick from Forrester.
There looked to be little danger as Hill gathered the ball deep in his own half but he set off across the field and after finding a gap he jinked past the tackles to break through. Hill ignored the supporting runners to touch down. He then capped the fine score to convert to give Berwick a 23-0 lead.
There was still half an hour to go and so the match was by no means over, and after throwing their bigger forwards into the attack Berwick were again under pressure.
This time the pressure told and David Gilchrist was yellow carded for a deliberate foul.
Forrester eventually made the extra man count by scoring a try which came after a series of phases tied in the Berwick defence. With the ball being moved along the back line the overlap was created and Forrest had their try.
Their conversion was missed, but the score brought back some nerves for Berwick as there was still a good 20 minutes left to play with the score 23-5.
The game increased in its physicality with Berwick showing brave defence and guts to keep the ball safe.
The tension was pierced with a great try from Tom Riddle with 10 minutes to go. A good touch finding kick resulted in a Berwick lineout which was won convincingly and with the stamp of a training ground move Riddle ran a superb line taking the ball at pace to burst through and score under the posts. James Patterson added the extra points and Berwick celebrated a resounding victory.
This week’s game is another home game against Leith. This is the final 3pm kick off as the clocks go back after next week.
Berwick: 15 D Law 14; G Hill 13; T Riddle 12; S Wood 11; M Brennan 10; J Webster 9; J Patterson 1; D Eagleton 2; G Black 3; G Clark 4; J Young 5; A Grieve 6; C Martin 7; A Pearson 8; D Gilchrist. Subs: M Broadbent, A Frost, T Jackson, G Logan