Berwick 56 Broughton 17: East Region 1 title wrapped up with rampant second half

Hat-trick hero Andrew Skeen (Pic: Mike Hardie)
Hat-trick hero Andrew Skeen (Pic: Mike Hardie)

Berwick clinched the East Region 1 title on Saturday when they came from behind to beat Broughton 56-17 at Scremerston.

Berwick, who are unbeaten in 18 league matches this season – drawing just once, ran in nine tries, including a hat-trick for Andrew Skeen.

The Blacks, who knew that they needed only three points to be crowned champions, got off to a nervous start, but they managed to open the scoring after 16 minutes through Jack Dalrymple. The conversion was missed but they had their noses in front at 5-0.

However, Broughton, currently sitting eighth in the 11 team league, hit straight back and a converted try under the posts put the Edinburgh side 7-5 in front.

Gareth Hill then went over the line after 24 minutes as Berwick re-took the lead at 10-7, but back came the visitors with another score to lead 10-12.

A classic line-out catch and drive saw Ryan Wilson touch down as Berwick went 15-12 in front, but again Broughton retaliated and another try saw them lead 15-17 at half-time.

The call at half-time was for calm heads, with team manager Owen Weatherhead admitting he knew his players were more than capable of winning, despite a nervous and sloppy first period.

In the second half, Scott Owens charged over for a try, converted by Skeen, and when Skeen went over himself, again converted, Berwick were 29-17 ahead and cruising to victory, the title and promotion to National League Division 3.

Another try for Skeen and one for Rosie put Berwick further ahead at 46-17 and in a grand-stand finale, with the championship in the bag, Berwick put the icing on the cake with two tries in the last two minutes, scored by Adam Hardie and Skeen, which secured his treble.

Owen Weatherhead was still nursing a slightly fuzzy head when he spoke to the Berwickshire News on Monday morning, describing watching his side win the league.

“It was just a major relief,” he said.

“When we set out at the start of the season, we said it was our goal to win the league –but to do it undefeated has been a superb effort from everyone involved, right from the president to the committee, to myself, Colin, Paul and the team.

“It has been a superb effort.”

Berwick have opted to gain promotion to the national leagues, with the committee leaving that decision down to the players (full story back page). Hawick Harlequins turned down promotion last year, so the club are showing ambition in wanting to play in a higher, unregionalised, division.

There is a further chance for success this weekend, as Berwick host Royal High in the National Shield semi-final.

Berwick won the Borders Shield to qualify for this match, and the winner will travel to Murrayfield to play the victor from Strathmore versus Greenock Wanderers.

Saturday will be tough, but Berwick start the match as favourites against a Royal High side that they beat to the title with two games to spare.