Reds Lose Out Narrowly in Cracking Match
Berwick 36 – 33 Linlithgow
Saturday 15 October 2016
Linlithgow RFC travelled to Berwick to play a rare away game in the first half of the season, keen to put the previous week’s home defeat behind them but well aware that Scremerston has never been a particularly successful venue for them. Nevertheless, the Reds started brightly and took the game deep into the Berwick half, forcing a penalty in the 2nd minute which Jack Frame successfully converted.
Berwick rode out this early storm and the play became more evenly matched territorially. In the 10th minute the home side full back went on a run that took him round some weak tackles, allowing him to score a try under the posts, leaving an easy kick. Play continued to ebb and flow before Linlithgow won a line out on the left wing deep in Berwick’s half. In a move straight from the training field, the ball was won and passed along the backs, allowing Ross Plenderleith to burst through and score under the posts, without a hand on him. Frame converted to take the Reds back into a narrow 10-7 lead.
The Berwick full back was showing a threat very time he had the ball and was allowed too much space to kick the ball ahead but Stuart Bell rescued matters with good work on the ground. The player was not finished because two minutes later he sold the visitors’ defence a massive dummy, enabling him to check inside and score his second try that was converted.
A minute later the referee had a lengthy chat with one of the home players. From the penalty that he also awarded, Jack Frame reduced the home side lead to one point, at 14-13.
As the clock was heading towards half time, the Berwick forwards pushed the Reds forwards back in the scrum, winning the penalty. Berwick asked for another scrum. As once again, the Reds were forced to retreat, the referee now spotted an infringement and ran under the posts to award a penalty try. There was still time for Jack Frame to score another penalty to take the half-time score to 21-16 for Berwick.
The game was in the balance although the Reds coaching team had to be conscious that they had been forced to use three of their four substitutes in the first 40 minutes.
The home side began the second half as the Reds had in the first half, on the attack, and turned down the opportunity of an early kick at goal in favour of a line out. Berwick won a scrum from the lineout and their flanker was first to dive on the ball as it squirted out behind the line to score a try. The conversion hit the post but the home side had secured the fourth, bonus-point try and a comfortable 26-16 lead.
Another try for Berwick, successfully converted, stretched the home lead to an ominous 33-16 with just over 25 minutes to go.
In the very next minute Linlithgow surged forward with the ball passed out to Stuart Cunningham. The hooker sent a low kick behind the home defence, allowing Ross Plenderleith to use his speed to touch down for his second try. Frame added the two points.
Plenderleith had another break a few minutes later but was stopped short. Immediately after, just after the 20th minute, replacement scrum half, Mikey Walker, chipped ahead up the left wing. Linlithgow won the Berwick line out and the ball was moved to the left. It did not need to go far before Stuart Bell grabbed it and barged his way over for a try. Jack Frame’s conversion brought the score to 33-30.
There was less than a quarter of the hour on the clock when continued attacks from the Reds resulted in another transgression from the home side. Jack Frame stepped up and from far out slotted home a great kick to level the scores.
This game still had some excitement to go, however. Berwick drove forward into Linlithgow’s half to try to seize back some initiative. The Linlithgow defence seemed to have it under control but lost possession. As Berwick nudged forwards, the referee awarded the home side a penalty which was successfully converted with five minutes left on the clock.
The Reds were determined not to let all their good work go to waste and kept the play in the Berwick half. The referee spotted a home-side infringement. Jack Frame prepared to take the kick, as, once again, the crowd were respectfully silent for a crucial kick. This one flew wide and the referee blew for time. Berwick had held out to win 36-33 in a game that had swung backwards and forwards.
The Reds will be disappointed to earn only a losing bonus point for all their efforts but should take some comfort for the spirit and hard work that so nearly rescued a game that, at one stage, looked as if it were heading for a heavy defeat. More than one of the home support was fair-minded enough to say that a draw would have been a more just outcome.
Jack Frame; Euan Murray, Chris Bredin, Eric Williams, and Ross Plenderleith; Chris Ronalson and Jamie March;, Stuart Gordon, Stuart Cunningham and Steven Grant; Sean Hagerty and Stuart Bell; Mark Caddle, Cameron Dori-Muir and Ross Martin.
Substitutes (all used): Kenny McKenzie, Euan Mochrie, Mikey Walker and Rory McAdam.