Rugby: Berkswell steal last-gasp triumph in Earlsdon derby

Saturday 13th November – Steve Wake reports on Berkswell’s local derby triumph over Earlsdon in their Midlands West Division 2 encounter:

Berkswell & Balsall – 24 Earlsdon – 21

With just six minutes to go Berkswell were staring at defeat to bottom-of-the-table Earlsdon, but not for the first time this season, their forwards rescued the match with two late scores from set-scrums. B’s welcomed back several players after injury and unavailability and took the points in this key match between the two bottom sides. Full-back Jamie Knott brought an assurance to the kicking duties which had been lacking in previous weeks, Captain Joe Cart led by example from the back-row and a fine all-action performance from Richard Waite at Scrum-half all helped to steer Berkswell to their late victory. Earlsdon had worked their way back from an early 10-0 deficit, to lead 21-10 with just minutes left. The manner of the defeat must have been particularly hard for them, as they still look for their first victory of the season.

Berkswell kicked-off playing up the slope and were soon penned back by the visitors. After weathering this early pressure without conceding, the home side snatched the lead with a breakaway try from inside their own half. A poor pass in midfield was seized on by the Berkswell backs; Joe Cart took a short pass and sprinted through the Earlsdon cover to score wide on the left. The difficult conversion was rifled over by Jamie Knott to give B’s an early seven point lead. This lead was extended further after 14 minutes as Knott kicked a penalty.

The game then became largely a midfield tussle as Earlsdon tried to take advantage of the slope and Berkswell looked to protect their early lead – looking for chances to extend it when possible. Earlsdon began to dominate the exchanges as halftime approached and it was no great surprise when their three-quarters managed to open up the Berkswell defence in the 36th minute to score a try near the posts, which was duly converted.

Berkswell saw the game out to halftime with a 10-7 lead and possibly relaxed into thinking the hard work had been done. The visitors came back out and attacked from the restart. Their back line were finding gaps in the home defence and a penalty, for offside at a ruck, brought the scores level. An unconverted try, after a forward drive and quick hands to the right-wing, put Earlsdon ahead for the first time. They then looked to close the game out with a further two penalties, extending their lead to eleven points.

As the minutes ticked away it was looking unlikely that Berkswell would manage a comeback but, with just six minutes left, a scrum ten meters from the Earlsdon line saw the Berkswell front eight get a good shove on. As the Earlsdon forwards went backwards over their own line, the B’s No.8 Mark Galpin touched the ball down. Knott added the conversion and Berkswell sensed a dramatic finale.

Just moments later, the ball was again worked down the pitch, to near the visitor’s line. The award of another attacking scrum must have sent alarm bells ringing through the visitor’s pack. As the Berkswell scrum – with a front-row of father and son Andrew and Nick Waite plus Craig Mills at tight-head – again in the ascendancy, an inevitable trundle towards the try line began. Galpin was ready to pounce once more, but Earlsdon illegally broke the scrum and came round offside, to thwart the touchdown. The referee had no option but to award the penalty try, which Knott converted in front of the posts, to secure the victory.

Match Stats
Tries: Joe Cart (1) Mark Galpin (1)
Penalty Try:(1)
Penalty: Jamie Knott (1)
Conversions: Jamie Knott (3)

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Craig Burgess - BalsallCom.Com


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