Berwick came from behind ten minutes from time to overcome their East Lothian opponents in a bruising encounter, Michael Brennan, Tom Riddle, David Gilchrist and scoring tries for the visitors.
After a couple of weeks off Berwick showed some signs of rustiness in the early stages of the game. North Berwick on the other hand showed they were up for the game from the off and as a result the Blacks were on the back foot in the first twenty minutes.
North Berwick opened the scoring with a penalty kick to take an early lead. Berwick were on the wrong side of the referee and the penalty count quickly stacked up against them. North Berwick however weren’t able to take advantage of these opportunities due to the lack of a reliable place kicker.
Instead they kicked down the touchline to try and force a score from a lineout. Berwick’s defence held up to this pressure until at last a great catch and drive from the home side saw their pack drive the ball over the line to touch down. The conversion was missed but North Berwick had established an early 8-0 lead.
No quarter was being given by either side and the tackling was ferocious with thumping tackles going in. The break down seemed to be causing problems for Berwick as the penalty count continued to rise against them. Eventually the referee stopped the game to speak to both Captains to try and bring some sense back into the rucks.
Soon after Shane Armstrong slotted a penalty to close the gap to 8-3. Another ruck saw some off the ball wrestling which resulted in two players being yellow carded with Dan Law trooping off for Berwick.
The extra space allowed North Berwick to extend their lead further through a well taken try. The space was created out wide after a series of drives from North Berwick drew in the Blacks defence. Then a clever cross field kick switched play quickly and with the ball being gathered safely the space was open for the touchdown. The well worked try wasn’t converted but Berwick were still playing catch up as North Berwick lead 13-3.
The large travelling support from Berwick continued to cheer the boys on but the pressure from the home side continued. It wasn’t until the last ten minutes of the first half that Berwick started to exert some pressure of their own. Armstrong sent a penalty wide before Berwick scored a cracking try through Michael Brennan.
The Berwick pack softened up the defence as they put together a series of drives which drew in the defence and then the backline showed good handling as the ball was swiftly moved out wide where Brennan darted over for the score. Armstrong put the icing on the cake by slotting the difficult conversion to close the gap to 13-10. The half time whistle came and the score didn’t fully reflect the territory and possession that the home side had enjoyed in the first half. The Berwick support was left hoping that the team could step up a gear in the second half.
The second half didn’t start well for Berwick as full-back Dan Law trudged off with a hamstring injury. His replacement Tommy McColl made an immediate impact with a strong run to create some forward momentum for the Blacks.
Another run from McColl continued to give Berwick some go forward momentum and gradually the Berwick pack started to get on top. The tackling was still ferocious with both sides going at each other with hammer and tongs.
Eventually the forward work from Berwick reaped a just reward with a fantastically well executed try from Tom Riddle. The pack drove the ball close to the try line and then a simple pop pass was gathered by Riddle at full pace and with a great line the Berwick centre cut through the defence to score a brilliant try under the posts. The conversion was added to give Berwick the lead for the first time 13-17 with only ten minutes to go.
The efforts from both sides started to show as the packs started to tire but Berwick’s lead galvanised the Scremerston pack and they went close only being denied by being held up over the line.
However the Berwick scrum were not to be denied and from the five metre scrum they drove their opposition over the line to allow number eight David Gilchrist a simple touch down. The conversion was added and Berwick were 13-24 in front with only minutes left. However the excitement wasn’t over and the home side threatened the Berwick try line to try and secure a losing bonus point. The Berwick team were dead on their feet but summoned courage and energy to keep them out.
Eventually North Berwick got a penalty attempt over to close the lead to 16-24 but with no further score Berwick won. The final whistle saw the travelling support and team celebrate loudly in what had been their toughest game of the season so far.
This was a real team effort with everyone playing their part. The Berwick bench each made an impact when they came on and this together with the team spirit saw the Scremerston team to deserved win. The bodies would be battered and bruised but the outcome was just what the Berwick management team wanted.
Berwick: Gareth Clark 2) Gareth Black 3) Tom Jackson 4) Jamie Young 5) Scott Owens 6) Harry Borthwick 7) Shane Armstrong 8) David Gilchrist 9) Jamie Pick 10) Jack Webster 11) Gareth Hill 12) Neil Graham 13) Tom Riddle 14) Michael Brennan 15) Dan Law. Subs: Geoff Logan, Tommy McColl & David Eagleton.