Resounding rugby win results in promotion for Berwick

A resounding win for Berwick sealed second place on Saturday – and promotion to rugby’s Tennent’s National League Division 2.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 9:36 am
Berwick's promotion-winning squad (pictured by Mike Hardie)
Berwick's promotion-winning squad (pictured by Mike Hardie)

The men in black defeated hosts Greenock Wanderers 27-57 to ensure a step up, alongside champions Lasswade, with one game still to go.

The Scremerston squad were delighted with the achievement and felt it was a valid reward for a season of consistently good performances amid lengthy delays caused by Covid call-offs.

Berwick are the highest points scorers in Division 3 and have lost only four league matches all season, all away from home and none by more than two points.

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There will be a celebratory atmosphere for the final game of this campaign, at home this Saturday to Murrayfield Wanderers.

Berwick have not lost at home in the league since 2018, so the coaches will be looking for a committed display with which to sign off.

Last weekend, Berwick fell 3-0 behind to the home side but recovered to lead 20-33 by half-time and turned on the style after the break.

Nine tries in total – from Gareth Hill (3), Jim Thompson and Adam Hardie (two apiece), Aidan Rosie and Seb Trotter – were complemented by six conversions by captain and fly half Jack Webster.

“It was absolutely amazing on Saturday,” said team manager Owen Weatherhead. “There was a lot of pressure on the boys because Greenock had won their last three games and brought a few ex-players back in, but once we settled, they couldn’t live with us, the way we play rugby.

“The scoreline was a true reflection of the game – I think they were lucky to get a couple of tries – but the boys were superb once we got into the game and settled into our game-plan.”

Weatherhead added: “The forwards have been superb all year. They have laid the platform and our back three – Aidan Rosie, Gareth Hill and Jim Thompson – have been absolutely outstanding.”

Berwick were glad to wrap up promotion at the first time of asking and want to round off the season in style this weekend, hopefully with a good win, he said.

Next season will present a more physical challenge for Berwick, predicts Weatherhead, but if they put in a good pre-season and are ready, he believes they will be OK.

Weatherhead is looking forward to visiting places such as Newton Stewart, Dumfries and particularly Peebles because of the attraction of a Borders derby.

“I played at Peebles when I was 13 or 14 years old and had a good relationship with them over the years, so I am looking forward to going back up there and challenging with them again,” he added.

Head coach Colin Young reckons standards in the lower reaches of League 1 and the top half of League 3 are about level with those in League 2, so he anticipates a close campaign.

If Berwick can win as many home games as possible and scoop up points where they can on the road, he added, they would be “there or thereabouts”.

Small margins played a big role in many sports and Young said had Berwick won any of the games in which they’d lost by one point or two, they could have gone up as champions.

“We also got the raw end of the deal over the whole Covid thing," he added, referring to a three-month spell without a proper league game, along with a number of other postponements.

However, that had probably given Berwick some momentum when the action resumed, he added, and everyone was delighted with Saturday’s achievement.

“It’s been a long three years in the making, from around 2019, when we have been able to challenge for anything,” said Young.

“We probably started quite nervously and Greenock went 3-0 up. We got two quick tries, then it went to 12-6. We were mostly always in front and they just kept on nipping away at our lead, but in the second half, I thought we were more than comfortable the whole way through, with superior fitness and superior rugby ability. We were patient and got four quick tries, while they got a consolation on the final whistle."

The following day, the Berwick girls’ section staged its first festival and a Facebook message said: “It was wonderful to welcome Gala Vixens, Kelso Ladies Rugby Club, Duns Rugby Club, Murrayfield Wanderers Girls Rugby, Edinburgh Harlequins, Ashington Rugby Club Women’s and Girls Rugby, Blyth Rugby Club and East Lothian Girls to Scremerston for the first time.”