Rugby: Berkswell’s second half resurgence not quite enough

Steve Wake reports on Berkswell & Balsall’s Midlands West Division 2 (South) defeat at home to visitors Droitwich on Saturday 5th February 2011:

Berkswell & Balsall – 22 Droitwich – 27

In a classic ‘game of two halves’, Berkswell left themselves just too much to do in the second period to overcome Droitwich. Playing against both the elements and the slope in the first forty minutes, the B’s were 20-7 down at halftime. Although they had closed to within a point of their opponents by the 65th minute mark, a try by the visitors with ten minutes left proved decisive. A huge amount of home pressure in the last few minutes just failed to produce the converted try which would have secured a victory.

It was a very slow start from Berkswell as they seemed to need the first quarter of an hour to adjust to the pace of the game. The visitors had started brightly and had reasoned that with everything in their favour in the first half, they would require a healthy lead at the turnaround. A rolling maul by the Droitwich forwards was well controlled and trundled over the B’s line, near the posts, for the first try, which was easily converted. All the play at this point was in the Berkswell half, which meant any penalties, aided by the strong wind, were possible scores. Such a penalty was duly kicked after eight minutes and another after twelve, providing the visitors with a 13-0 lead, scored at a point a minute.

Berkswell at last began to put some play together and created more possession, in the Droitwich half. The visitors were strong in defence however and scoring opportunities were at a premium. After 23 minutes the home forwards launched a drive towards the Droitwich line, the move appeared to have been halted about five meters short, but part of the maul broke away and crossed the visitor’s line wide on the left, with Centre Guy Minshull appearing to get the vital touchdown, for an unconverted try. Droitwich had the final say before halftime though as with four minutes remaining their backs created an overlap, which resulted in a try under the posts and a successful conversion, giving the visitors a fifteen point lead at the break.

The B’s began the second half with passion and put the visitors under pressure straight from the kick-off. Unfortunately a little too much ‘passion’ meant a yellow card for Captain Joe Cart, following an incident at a maul, which certainly wasn’t what they needed. There were no scores while Berkswell were down to 14 men, but almost as soon as Cart re-joined the fray, B’s started their attempted comeback. A trademark scrum near the visitor’s line saw Berkswell’s pack get the drive on and rumble over, for No.8 Mark Galpin to score. Although the try was wide out near the touchline, an excellent kick from Jamie Knott secured the extra points.

The game was now quite an open affair and both sets of backs were seeing plenty of ball. The visitors were trying to run the ball when they could, as clearance kicking against the wind was proving difficult. B’s, for their part, were up against a strong pack and were also using their three-quarter line to try to make the breakthrough. It was Berkswell who were rewarded for their endeavour, as a creative move along the line provided wing Cameron Hunt with the chance to chip over his opposite number. He then outpaced the full-back, having gathered the ball cleanly, to score near the posts. Knott again got the conversion kick, to bring B’s to within a point.

With ten minutes left Droitwich broke clear, against the general run of play to score. It came from a good move amongst their back division and was to prove the decisive score of the afternoon, the conversion giving the visitors a 27-19 lead. Berkswell put everything into the final minutes of the game, a penalty kick by Knott sailed between the posts to reduce the deficit to five points and the home forwards continued to try and drive the Worcestershire men back over their line. With seconds left B’s thought they had a penalty in front of the posts, from which they would have opted for a scrum and possible winning push-over try, but the referee didn’t award the advantage when the ball went dead, and the final whistle must have been a huge relief for Droitwich.

Scoring Summary
Tries: Guy Minshull (1)
Mark Galpin (1)
Cameron Hunt (1)

James Knott (1)

James Knott (2)