North Berwick headed for Tranent for the RBS East League 1 match last weekend and the players and supporters knew that this would be a really tough test for the young players that had taken the club to 3rd place. Having lost only twice so far this season and only to the two sides above them so far so good, but with Berwick and Portobello sniffing at their heels only a victory would do for Jamie Dove and his players if they were to hold their position in the league.
Once again, there were changes from the side which had defeated Hawick Linden and another new partnership was required in the centres with Peter Littlefair joining Kyle Hamilton and the front row of the scrum, Jonny Riddell, Grant Black and Scott Purvis were possibly the youngest ever in black and red with the gross age being 57! Peter Grady started in the 2nd row and was the only non NBHS FP in the side which certainly proves that the club, in conjunction with the school, manufactures its own players.
North Berwick won the toss and chose to play up the slope and into the wind. The home side started brightly and seemed to have plenty possession and stand off Ross kicked a penalty after five minutes to open the scoring. Although North Berwick had some visits to Ross High’s half, they conceded penalties on a regular basis which allowed the home side to dominate. The scrum contest was in Ross High’s favour as well although both sides seemed to be able spin the scrum which was making life difficult for both scrum halfs.
After twenty four minutes, Ross kicked a penalty towards the corner and from the resulting line out the forwards rolled over for a try that on the balance of pressure was deserved.
Ben Inglis discipline deserted him after the half hour and with possession won, he chose to abuse the referee and was in some ways fortunate to only receive a yellow card. However during his rest on the touchline, the ball was won and from a huge pass from Grant Craig which missed out both centres, Graeme Fairgrieve received and strolled over the line and dotted down under the posts for a smashing try and easy conversion. The half time score was Ross High 8 North Berwick 7.
Playing down the hill, the visiting supporters thought that the game was probably under control but no one had told the Ross pack that was the agenda and they picked up their game and took it to North Berwick.
In a rare visit to the Ross High half, Grant Craig kicked a penalty to take the lead from the home side but for the next twenty minutes or so, North Berwick were under the cosh and it took good defence and sometimes the last pass going astray for the lead to be held.
The experienced Craig Cockburn came on in the front row and Russell Freer replaced Iain Dove in the second row and the scrummage firmed up allowing Craig a bit more time to drill the ball towards the corners and further tire the home pack. There were more chances and Fairgrieve, Connor Johnson and Hamilton all made inroads to the Ross defence.
From a penalty on the Ross line, Craig popped the ball into touch and the line out was won and driven towards the line. The ref decided Ross had collapsed the maul and the same happened again before it made the line and Grady was first to dive on the ball for his first score for the club. Craig struck the conversion perfectly and suddenly there was daylight between the sides and only five minutes left on the clock.
The game was won and although Ross High deserved something from the game, maybe North Berwick took their opportunities better and the league points returned to Recreation Park from a difficult place. Adam McNair, Jamie Dove and the young front row played a huge part in the victory and Fairgrieve had a hunger for work and was dangerous every time he was on the ball.
Portobello are the visitors to Recreation Park this weekend, let’s have a big crowd to give them a welcome. Kick off is 3.00pm