Whilst we ran in 11 tries in this 71-17 win, trying to play it too loose led to a lot of unforced errors and conceded 3 tries. One more game left in this Border League pool and if we win that we are in the final. It is also the next game we play, at Selkirk on 12th March.
Berwick kicked this game off and had the early pressure for a few minutes, but a forward pass on our 22. From the scrum its popped out to Hunter who makes good ground and takes us deep into Berwick territory, only for a forward pass of our own on the 22. We steal it at the scrum, out to the backs, grubber and Hunter is just beaten to it, but forces a Gala lineout from where we drive it over and Johnstone gets the credit. Unconverted, but 5-0 in 5 minutes.
We knock on at the restart and they do likewise following scrum but playing advantage Graham (9) hacks on, picks up well, and races upfield. Stopped on their 22 but penalty Gala put to touch and this time Roden is the clear scorer after driving on from the lineout and punching through. 10-0 after 9 minutes.
The home crowd are already expecting us to run away with it from here, but a penalty to Berwick is put to touch and a short pop to front of line (unnoticed for 2nd week in a row) sees them making ground before moving it wide and gaining another penalty. We steal at the lineout but are given a knock on call for juggling and recovering. They move it wide from the scrum and after an initial defensive effort keeps them out they find a gap to scramble through, but not convert, to make it 10-5.
This seems to wake us up a bit and we have the majority of play for the next few minutes, albeit interspersed with knock-ons and forward pass calls to prevent scoring. We do however slowly make our way upfield and have a penalty 5m out that Dods (6) taps and runs driving their defenders over to get it down. Converted to make it 17-5.
From the restart we take charge of it and with good hands sees it moving upfield where Emond makes the final break and runs it in for the bonus point try in the 23rd minute. Unconverted, 22-5.
The 26th sees penalty Gala put to touch on halfway. Wide from the lineout and Dods (15) makes good ground and sells a big dummy to take us up into their 22 where he offloads to Hunter who could probably have made it to the line, but unselfishly makes sure of the score by inside pass to Dick for the touchdown. Conversion makes it 29-5.
Penalty to Berwick in the 32nd, 20m out for a truck-and-trailer call as we are driving them out following a lineout in our 22 after a long kick upfield. Kicked to touch but knocked on at their lineout. However a combined lack of concentration at the scrum first of all sees it pop loose and then no-one go for possession which sees Berwick pick up and dart in for their 2nd, which when converted makes it 29-12.
Coming up for half time and a Berwick kick ahead is partially blocked and spins into the air, Berwick kicker chases, jumps and knocks on by 5m but is given the all clear by a certain Selkirk referee, following which they get a penalty and put it to touch 25m out. We steal at the lineout and get a penalty in our favour, but before we get the chance to have a final go in this period the whistle goes for halftime.
A frantic opening to the second half sees a high penalty and free kick count giving Berwick the chance to put some pressure on but a solid defence keeps them out. A moment when it’s thought that there is a serious injury as a loud ‘crack’ noise is heard and a Berwick player is left writhing on the ground. Ref (sensibly) immediately asks for stretcher, but in under 2 minutes he is simply helped to the side.
The penalties etc keep coming for another 5 minutes but we keep them out.
Finally in the 12th we get possession and keep it to make our way up into their 22 where a good series of passes starts, continues and finishes with Graham (9) involved and he gets the final pass to score under the posts for the easy conversion, 36-12.
We take control from the restart again and after an initial burst by Graham (7) makes the gap a number of offloads and pops sees us running around Berwick defenders and its Millar that takes the final pass and runs it in. Converted again, 43-12.
From the restart we move it wide but guddle it and they hack through. We carefully marshal it and touch down for the 22 dropout, only to turn and see a 5m scrum to Berwick awarded. They move it wide from the scrum but are forced into touch and we clear from the lineout.
Into the final 20 and after a lineout we are on a surge into their 22, but a forced pass that should have been taken to ground goes loose and they hack through and take it all the way to score at the other end of the park. 43-17.
This gives our guests a bit of a boost and lifts their heads again and for the next 10 minutes they make more ground from possession, but our defence has solidified again and keeps them out on each attempt.
Into the last 10 and the league position difference starts to tell as tired Berwick legs start to tell. The 72nd sees a scrum 35m out and we move it wide for Livingston coming in on an angle and running it in from 20m. Converted to make it 50-17.
74 minutes and Berwick are offside on halfway and playing advantage we whip it wide to find dick on the wing who hands off and makes good ground before being hauled in on their 22, but manages to offload to Young who dances round some despairing tackles. Converted, 57-17.
77 minutes and a burst through 5m in their half sees young take it up to their 22 before offloading to Dick to run it in for our tenth, and convert it. 64-17.
79 minutes and Berwick heads are down. We take the restart and a good passage of play sees many passes and offloads to supporting players to take us all the way up to the line where Dods (6) is the player that sees them run out of defenders and crosses, and then converts it himself to bring the game to a close at 71-17.
Squad: A Johnstone, L Roden, L Pettie, D Marshall, O Palepoi, E Dods, Gary Graham, T Weir, George Graham, L Millar, F Hunter, A Emond, B Dick, G Young, C Dods
Subs (all used): D Hughes, E McQuillin, M Welsh, R Livingston, M Walton