1st XV - Report
North Berwick 22 Berwick 19
Last Saturday’s home 1st XV match against Berwick and the 2nd XV match against Linlithgow was preceded by a minute’s applause led by seventy players in respect of the tragic loss of regular 1st XV player Russell Freer who died on Tuesday 28th February
From the side that lost at Portobello, Ben Inglis, and Captain Jamie Dove returned to the back row and veteran Craig Cockburn started at loose head prop.
Berwick won the corresponding fixture in November by 26 – 12 in an excellent match at Scremerston and they have gone on to have a successful season and win or lose they were going to finish 3rd in the table.
Clearly the event at the start affected the home players and the visitors scored two tries in the first five minutes; one by stand off Patterson and the second by winger Brennan. In both cases, they might have been playing unopposed rugby as gaps appeared all over the park. Patterson converted the first as the home supporters wondered what might happen next as the visitors raced into a 12 – nil lead.
However, the home players woke up and realised that they were not just bit part players. Jamie Dove, Ben Inglis and Bhrian Buchannan started carrying the ball to the opposition and there were opportunities on both wings before stand off Grant Craig latched onto a loose ball and sprinted forty metres to score at the posts. He converted and the game was on!
Berwick had a bit more of the ball but the tackling was ferocious particularly in the midfield where teenager Mike Lewis and Peter Littlefair were strong. Buchannan was next on the score sheet picking up and driving through the defence for an excellent try. Once again Craig added the extra points and the home side were in front. Fifteen minutes were on the clock and twenty six points had been scored!
It was an open game and wingers Graeme Fairgrieve and Jamie Armstrong both had good runs but the Berwick defence held out until half time.
Danny Thorburn replaced Cockburnand Jake Boswell came on for Criag Gilroy at half time and soon after Matt Dudgeon replaced Littlefair.
With seven minutes of the second half gone, North Berwick fashioned the try of the match. The ball was spun to the right and with full back Connor Johnson joining the line, Fairgrieve headed down the wing. As the defence came across he fed inside to the supporting Thorburn who dived over for a superb score.
Back came Berwick and after several attacks they scored a try close enough for Patterson to convert and tie up the score at nineteen all.
Thereafter, urged on by the huge home crowd, North Berwick attacked the visitor’s line and had several chances before they settled for a penalty from Craig to take a lead that they would hold for the rest of the match. Berwick tried hard but ferocious tackling kept them out. Jonny Riddell and Craig Gilroy made a couple of notable hits which allowed the ball to be turned over and danger cleared but the most important came in the final minute of the match when the visiting backs broke from deep in their own half and it looked as though winger Pick would score until Armstrong from the opposite wing saved the day.
There were superb performances from all eighteen players in the black and red. Craig was immense in leading the line, young Nick Andrews at scrum half belied his size, Riddell has become a 1st XV player and of course the strong men Jamie Dove, Inglis and Buchanan brought the experience required. Another teenager, Gregor Anderson complemented the back row and punched well above his weight.
It was no surprise that Buchanan was awarded the Captain’s pint as man of the match.
Next week, is the final match of the season and it is away to winless Lismore. Fifth place in the league is possible with a win.