Berwick now sit top of the BT East League Division One following their comprehensive win over Langholm on Saturday.
With the previous week’s match that was due to be played at Langholm having to be cancelled due to a frozen pitch, Berwick received a request from Langholm earlier in the week to reveres the fixture due to a lack of available players able to travel to Berwick.
This was sanctioned by the SRU and Berwick travelled to Milntown the home of Langholm RFC, much in the need for a game of rugby.
From the whistle Berwick took command showing good ball retention and forced the first of many penalties in the match. With less than two minutes played Shane Armstrong slotted the ball between the posts. A succession of excellent ball handling quick pace and support play from the Berwick team saw Gareth Hill go over for two tries in the same number minutes both converted by Armstrong.
The next score came from the strength of the Berwick forwards in the ruck and maul situation which proved to be too much for the shell shocked home side Langholm the result was that Gareth Clark took the ball to ground over the try line with the conversion taken by Gareth Hill as Armstrong received treatment from what appeared to stamping in the scoring process.
With only 14 minutes of the match played Berwick were three tries to the good and it was only a matter of time before they were to get the much expected Bonus point try.
This came through the quick tap and go and turn of pace of Jamie Pick converted by Armstrong to put Berwick 31 point up on the day after only 25 minutes of play.
It was to be Armstrong himself to touch down for the next score showing his hunger for the ball followed by his own conversion.
Poor discipline by the home side was to be the next key moment of the game when Jamie Pick was blatantly taken out by a late challenge with the offender escaping with nothing more than a talking to from the referee. Berwick response was only to rub salt into the wounded home side by running in a further try following a superb brake by Neil Graham he unselfishly passed the ball to Tony McDougall to go in for a try, once more Armstrong converted giving the travelling side a comfortable 45 point lead at the half way point.
The second half started with both the young Berwick wingers in Declan Blackburn and Adam Hardie continuing to show some enterprising moves in attack and in defence, however it was the dominance of the Berwick pack that resulted in the Langholm prop Jason Ratcliffe receiving a yellow card for repeated offences, without a prop replacement on the bench this resulted in the next 10 minutes being played with uncontested scrums.
With coach Colin Young unable to travel due to work commitments, it was down to team manager Owen Weatherhead to make the call and bring all four subs on from the bench in John Nixon, Geoff Logan, Garry Flint and Stuart Gilchrist with David Eagleton, Gareth Clark, Scott Owens and Jamie Young taking a well earned rest.
Langholm were fortunate not to have a second player Yellow carded following a further late challenge this time on Berwick’s Gareth Hill.
It was with cool heads, discipline and focus shown by Berwick at this stage that took the pack up the field giving captain Gareth Black his reward of a try also converted by Armstrong.
From the restart Berwick were straight back through the home side defence’s with Armstrong in for his second try of the day wide out on the left of the posts. Perhaps with the legs feeling the strain from the run for the line the subsequent conversion attempt struck the post resulting in this first miss of the day.
With the score line now some 57 to the good for the Berwick team it was Langhlom that came up with the next score when what appeared to be an obvious forward pass the Berwick defence were guilty of not playing to the whistle as this went unpunished by the referee to the amassment of both teams. The conversion went wide taking the score line to 5 – 57.
The restart was all about the team effort and support play of the squad with Tony McDougall providing the try scoring pass to Jamie Pick for his second of the day, converted by Armstrong.
Next was the turn of David Gilchrist to go in for a try following some interactive play involving both forwards and backs with Armstrong adding to the score line again with the further conversion. Confidence and belief was running high throughout the team when Jack Webster cut a fine line to break the home sides defence yet again as he scored a fine try with Armstrong again converting.
With the game all but over when a second late challenge on Jamie Pick also went unpunished by the referee, resulted in a precautionary measure of Pick leaving the field.
There were only three minutes of play remaining when Gareth Hill took off doing what we all know he does best showing the home a side a clean pair of heals and scoring his third try of the day under the posts, Berwick’s twelfth try on the day, with Armstrong stepping up to convert his tenth from eleven on the day the score line now stood at 5 – 85.
Langholm were however, to be rewarded with the last score of the match with a unconverted try as Berwick’s top of the league celebrations began before the final whistle was blown.
Berwick’s next match is the traditional Boxing Day fixture at Alnwick on Friday, December 26, KO 2.15pm. Team and supporters buses leave Berwick Rugby Club at 12.15pm, all welcome.