Rugby - Improving Blacks lose to Cougars

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RHC Cougars 34, Berwick 13

THE Blacks recommenced league action travelling away to RHC, in Edinburgh to face the team currently in third place in RBS East League 1.

RHC have been the form team recently which saw them win the RBS Club of the Month Award for January.

The game started for the Blacks, when after regaining the ball from their own kick off, they immediately put pressure on the RHC line, with James Patterson going over from short range for the first try of the game, after only three minutes. Gareth Hill turned the five points into seven with a good conversion from wide on the right.

This spurned RHC into action and they applied quite a lot of pressure on Berwick. The pressure resulted in Berwick giving away a penalty just outside their twenty-two, which RHC converted bringing the score to 3-7, after only ten minutes on the clock.

RHC quickly gained another penalty from Berwick allegedly for slowing down play. The resultant kick brought the score to 6-7.

From the restart it was the home team who were penalised for killing the ball at the breakdown.

This gave Hill a difficult opportunity to immediately pull back three points which he duly converted making the score 6 - 10.

The penalty conversion gave the Blacks an attacking boost and spurred the Black’s into action with most of the play for the next ten minutes being in the RHC half.

Good driving play by the forwards - Jamie Young, Will Orpwood, David Gilchrist and hooker Gareth Black, saw them all making hard yards. In the backs, both centres Ali Grieve and Roy MacFarlane looked dangerous every time they got the ball.

After ten minutes of pressure the Blacks were able to claim another penalty attempt which saw Hill kicking another successful penalty making the score 6-13.

The balance of the first half finished with RHC gaining a penalty five metres from the Berwick line, but they elected to take the scrum. From a solid platform the number eight picked up and fed the winger who duly scored in the corner for a smartly taken touchdown. RHC duly converted the difficult kick from the touchline to bring the scores level at 13 all.

This was not the finish of the first half action as the referee warned both teams for persistent infringement at the breakdown.

With the score tied Berwick started to exert pressure and this resulted in RHC giving away a penalty deep inside their twenty-two for a deliberate knock on when it seemed Berwick were destined to score another try.

This resulted in the first yellow card of the day for RHC, but unfortunately Hill missed the difficult penalty opportunity.

With forty two minutes on the clock, it seemed that this would be the last kick of the half but it was not to be, as the referee deemed more injury time to play.

This resulted in play being bogged down in the middle of park, with Will Orpwood receiving a yellow card for persistent breakdown infringements by the team.

RHC came out really fired up for the start of the second half and only some stout Berwick defence kept them at bay with Paul Pringle and Aaron Hall putting in some good tackles. The good defence kept them out for 12 minutes but eventually the pressure told and RHC scored a try which they converted. The score gave them the lead for the first time in the game - 20-13.

The next 20 minutes of the game saw most of the play in the middle of the park, with neither side getting into the opposition 22. Both sides created chances, the best of which came to Berwick when the backs worked the ball to the winger for the day Alex Frost who ran from deep in his own half getting stopped just short of the RHC try line.

Berwick did manage to recycle slow ball and have another couple of attempts to make the line. However the pressure was released when the referee awarded RHC another penalty at the breakdown and allowed them to clear their line.

With time running out for the Blacks the game had to be chased and they then got more ambitious in attack which created gaps for RHC. The Edinburgh side were able to exploit the situation to score another two converted tries making the score 34-13.

This was a very competitive performance by the whole team, with the last few minutes of the game giving the score-line a one sided look.

With RHC winning the game they are able to boast an excellent run of victories with them now being ten games without defeat. Hopefully, Berwick can build on this performance and turn it into a win next time out.

Next Saturday, the Black’s travel to play in the Northumberland Shield at Novocastrians in Newcastle, with league action returning to Scremerston on March 2 with a home game against Dunbar.