Two Blacks see red as Berwick lose first game in Shield

editorial image
Share this article

Berwick 13, Gala YM 15

On reading that there were three red cards and a yellow during this RBS Border Shield game you might think that you had stumbled into a sporting war zone. However you would be wrong.

These local derbies always bring a little spice to a game and although it was strongly contested it wasn’t a dirty game.

Gala YM started the better of the two teams as Berwick were slow out of the blocks. Gala dominated possession but didn’t make the most of it until the fifth minute when they claimed a try.

It started from a scrum deep into Berwick territory near the stand side of the pitch. The ball was picked up and as play progressed the ball was moved across the pitch through a series of phases.

With the Berwick defence stretched the gap opened out wide which was exploited by Gala for the score by Gala’s number 8 Graham Bryce. The conversion attempt by Craig Dods went narrowly wide.

The try stung Berwick into action and in the 11th minute they took the lead through a converted try by Gareth Hill. The move started with an excellent break up the far side touchline by Berwick’s

David Gilchrist and with the ball being recycled play moved towards the stand side where Hill came off his wing on and inside run which sliced through the defence. Using his pace he was able to score under the posts and added the conversion for good measure to make it 7-5 to the Blacks.

The next 20 minutes saw both teams try to make ground but neither side could find any rhythm and the wet conditions made handling extremely difficult for both sides resulting in plenty of knock ons.

Berwick extended their lead through a Hill penalty on the 26th minute when Gala were penalised for going offside to make the score 10-5.

The first card of the game was produced in the 28th minute when Gala’s try scorer, number 8 Bryce was sent to the sin bin for persistent fouling. Only a few minutes later the first red card of the day was produced after David Gilchrist squared up to one of the Gala players in a manner not acceptable under the laws of the game. Referee Grant Denholm produced a red card and Berwick would play the next 50 minutes a man down.

The remainder of the first half saw Gala claim the majority of possession although some poor positional kicking from Berwick didn’t help matters. Some great tackling from Alistair Grieve, Dan Law and Paul Pringle (amongst others) snuffed out any threat.

However the pressure eventually told and Gala slotted a penalty from in front of the posts to make the half time score 10-8 to Berwick. With the man advantage restored all of the play was with Gala as they tried to break the Berwick defence. However the Blacks held firm until the 52nd minute when Gala scored a well constructed try. The ball was moved first one way across the pitch and then back again in a series of plays.

Eventually the defence was sucked in to create the space out wide for the score. The conversion was added from a difficult position by Dods to give Gala a 10-15 lead.

The Gala YM lead appeared to have been extended when a deft chip through let the winger touch down but to the bafflement of many the referee brought play back for an earlier offence to deny them the score. In the 65th minute and against the run of play Berwick added a penalty from Hill to bring the match to 13-15.

There was a dramatic conclusion to the game as in the last couple of minutes Berwick’s Paul Pringle and Gala’s Ben Murray were red carded for exchanging blows, meaning Berwick finished the game with only 13 players.