DUNS 26 - 27 BERWICK
Berwick escape with the spoils after last gasp try wins game.
The match report this week has been penned by Duns stalwart Derek Simpson as they were the host team. Many thanks to Derek and to Duns for the game and hospitality - we look forward to seeing them at Fortress Scremerston on Saturday 2 March with a 3pm kick off. Book your space at the pre-match lunch as it is sure to sell out if you leave it too late.
For my own thoughts on the game I think this was a tense match which could have gone either way. The fact that we were able to keep our heads and grind out the "ugly win" is testament to the confidence and dedication that the team have. Any win against your local rivals should be savoured and on this showing Duns have a good young team in the making too. Next week we face Portobello at home and the lads deserve your support again so please do come along. Many thanks to everyone that made the trip through to Duns as the support does make a huge difference to the lads so well done everyone.
Duns locked horns with Berwick in their first local derby of the season, as the clubs faced each other in the latest round of matches in Tennent's East League Division 1.
Berwick were looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the season, and their push for promotion to the National Leagues, while Duns sought to rebound from an agonising loss away to Hawick Harlequins by a solitary point in their previous match. By full time it was Berwick who were celebrating, with a last-gasp try securing all 5 points, while Duns suffered yet another defeat by the narrowest of margins, losing by the odd point in 53.
The match kicked off on a lovely sunny afternoon, in a strengthening breeze. A dry pitch meant that all was set for a game of running rugby, and so it turned out with both teams scoring four tries in a hugely entertaining match.
Berwick enjoyed all of the early pressure, going through the phases and retaining the ball very well. They were rewarded with a penalty after only 8 minutes, which was slotted by Andrew Skeen.
Duns then came more into proceedings, and after patiently working the ball up the park through the forwards skipper Bert Grigg went over for the game's opening try on 14 minutes. Dale Robertson converted.
Almost immediately, Duns increased their lead. Ryan Mania looked certain to score in the corner, but he seemed to stumble and at the same time was caught in a determined last-gasp tackle by the cover defence. The ball was held up over the line with Duns being awarded a scrum 5, from which number 8 John Walker picked up and went over unopposed on the blind side, too far out for Dale Robertson's conversion. Less that quarter of the match had passed and Duns lead by 12 - 3.
Undeterred by those early setbacks, Berwick came straight back at their hosts. The were awarded a penalty, which was kicked to the corner, and safely secured their own lineout put-in. The maul was sacked by Duns, but the ball was zipped along the visitors' threequarter line to Gareth Hill on the right wing and he exploited the overlap to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Half time arrived with both teams trying to move the ball wherever possible, and Duns held a slender advantage at 12 - 8.
Duns kicked off in the second half and were immediately on the offensive. A chip ahead by the home side was regathered close to the line and Duns were awarded a scrum only 5 metres out. Possession was secured, and a couple of phases later Danny Lamb darted round the side of the ruck to score his side's third try. Again Dale Robertson converted.
The home side now had their tails up, and were looking for the score which may have taken the game away from Berwick. However, the ball was spilled in midfield, and regathered by the visitors who almost in an instant took the play 50 metres up the park. The pack then took the ball through the phases, before hooker Ryan Wilson dived over from close range to score. Andrew Skeen kicked the goal to narrow the deficit to 19 - 15.
The topsy-tuvy nature of the game continued when Duns were next to score. Keiran Wilkinson chipped ahead inside the 22, and regathered the ball fortuitously when it rebounded off a defender. Duns set up a ruck, from which a popped pass to Nathan Melrose took the hooker over by the posts for his side's bonus point try. Dale Robertson again converted, and Duns lead by 26 - 15.
Straight from the re-start kick Berwick narrowed the gap again. Great interplay between backs and forwards took them deep into the home 22, and when the ball was spun to the right it was second row Euan Thompson who found himself on the wing. He still had a lot to do, but he crashed through the first tackle, then protected the ball in both hands as he dived over by the corner flag. Andrew Skeen kicked a beauty of a conversion from the touchline into the wind.
With the clock running down, Berwick had complete control of the game, with only stout defence by Duns keeping them out. The chinks in the defensive line were beginning to show, however, and as time wore on it seemed inevitable that the visitors would score. They were tackled just short of the line wide out on the right, and should surely have been penalised for a double - or even treble - movement, but the referee waved play on. The ball came back across the park, and with a yawning overlap against him Duns fly half Keiran Wilkinson went for an interception. He got one hand to the ball but couldn't quite gather it and he was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on.
A man down, the Duns defensive line was even more stretched. Berwick tapped the penalty, and after patiently going through several phases, whilst working their way closer to the line, their burly tight-head and Captain Tom Jackson ploughed his way over from close range. The conversion was missed, but Berwick had the lead and they safely negotiated the remaining minute or so before the referee blew for full time.
A great game of rugby, played by two sides full of local talent, with both teams fully committed to playing a wide game, and chances a-plenty at both ends. A wonderful advert for the East League, watched by a crowd of around 300.
Berwick's win keeps them hot on the heels of leaders Royal High, while the two bonus points earned by Duns keeps them in fourth place in the table.
The teams were :-
Berwick :- Rory Hindhaugh; Gareth Hill, Andrew Skeen, Duncan Hardie and Jamie Pick; Jack Webster and Cameron Rogerson; Darren Goodfellow, Ryan Wilson, Tom Jackson (Captain), Euan Thompson, Scott Owens, Mason Emery, Peter McColl and Adam Pearson. The replacements were Lee Douglas, Aiden Rosie, Jack Dalrymple and Stuart Gilchrist.
Duns :- Ewan Fleming; Ryan Mania, Mark Alexander, Dale Robertson and Callum Redden; Keiran Wilkinson and Danny Lamb; Nathan Chisholm, Nathan Melrose, Jordon Patterson, Josh Herbert, Bert Grigg ( captain ), Scott Millar, John Walker and Michael Thomson. The replacements were Ben Foreman, Richard Burns, Angus Tullie and Chip Brailsford.