Rugby: Berkswell return from 3 week winter freeze

Steve Wake reports on Berkswell’s narrow defeat in their Midlands West Division 2 clash at Old Coventrians last Saturday (11th December 2010):

Old Coventrians – 27 Berkswell & Balsall – 21
Midlands West 2 (South)

In their first league match for three weeks, following a sequence of postponements caused by the early-winter freeze up, Berkswell staged a late fight-back at Old Coventrians, claiming a welcome bonus point and almost the match. The B’s had been forced to field a very ‘experienced’ back division and, although pinned back in their own half for long periods of the match, they were strong in the tackle and always looking to run the ball out of trouble. OC’s were certainly on top in the first half, but were only eleven points clear at the turn-around. The visiting forwards ground down their opposite numbers and provided the platform for the late surge of ten unanswered points in the final 15 minutes that had their hosts desperate to hear the final whistle.

OC’s kicked off and put pressure on Berkswell from the start. B’s just couldn’t get the ball out of their half, with strong running in hand from the home side, looking for gaps in the Berkswell defence. After 11 minutes the home tight-head crashed over the line for the first try after a good break down their left-hand wing had sucked-in too many Berkswell players. The conversion was accurate, giving the hosts a 7-0 lead.

Berkswell had a chance to reduce the arrears with a penalty after 18 minutes, but it sailed way wide of the posts. Three minutes later OC’s got their second try as their young inside centre weaved his way through several attempted tackles to score. No conversion this time and within minutes Jamie Knott had reduced the home lead as he found his range with a penalty. The B’s were making more of a game of it now and pressure was beginning to tell on the home defence. The OC’s open-side flanker was yellow-carded for a late tackle and the subsequent penalty was run from halfway; the ball went through several pairs of hands, before B’s prop Ollie Flint sprinted the final five meters to the line, to score.

The home lead was only four points as the game headed for the break, but with three minutes of injury time gone the OC’s Fly-half went through to score near the posts, for a converted try, which extended OC’s lead to 19-8 at halftime.

Berkswell missed another kickable penalty three minutes into the second half and this preceded a further home try, as the Old Covents outside centre completed another swift break down the left. This one was unconverted and left the home side 24-8 ahead. The game then became somewhat of a midfield tussle, as neither side could create much in the way of scoring opportunities.

With 65 minutes gone there was a penalty and yellow card to each side. First OC’s replacement lock killed the ball in front of his own posts, giving Sam Bignall the chance to reduce the deficit. Then, just two minutes later it was yellow and ten minutes in the sin-bin for a Berkswell lock, as he committed the same offence in front of his own posts, resulting in an easy penalty kick to OC’s.

B’s seemed to better enjoy a fourteen-a-side game. Silver-haired full-back Bruce Chadwick almost rounded off a lovely back’s move, for a try in the corner, but was just held-up. From a long spell of pressure in the Old Covent’s ‘22’, the referee gave Berkswell a penalty, with the home side desperately infringing to stop a try. Bignall stepped up to score the three points.

The visiting forwards were now in full cry as the home pack visibly tired and started to wilt. More B’s pressure deep in home territory saw OC’s going backwards, but the mauls and set-scrums were collapsing each time making progress to the line impossible, to the frustration of the Berkswell pack. Eventually, after the fifth such collapse, the referee’s patience snapped as he awarded B’s a penalty try, which Bignall kicked in front of the posts, reducing the home lead to just six points. With more time there was every chance of Berkswell sneaking the game, but the final whistle came to rescue their hosts, just a couple of moments later.


Scoring Summary
TriesOllie Flint (1)

Penalty Try (1)

Penalties
Jamie Knott (1)
Sam Bignall (2)
Conversion
Sam Bignall (1)

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Craig Burgess - BalsallCom.Com

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