Steve Wake reports on Berkswell & Balsall’s Midland West 2 (South) victory at home over Pershore on Saturday 22nd October 2011. This victory, the Bs 4th in 5 games, finally saw them move into credit in the league (3 points), having kicked off with a 15 point deduction, a penalty for behaviour in last season’s home fixture against Old Coventrians (26th March 2011), which the referee abandoned due to a mass brawl:
Berkswell & Balsall – 27 Pershore – 5
After a close first half, Berkswell powered to victory and additional bonus point after the break. Having been locked at 5-5 for most of the second quarter, the B’s began to break the stranglehold with a converted try just on halftime.
Within eleven minutes of the restart two tries had moved the score to 22-5, with Berkswell’s final try coming just before the end. Pershore held out well in the first half and did have chances to score via their strong running backs, but with the home side dominant in the set scrums, they couldn’t get sufficient possession to pose much of a threat to Berkswell’s victory.
The visitors started well, despite playing up the slope and should have been ahead inside three minutes, but for a missed penalty which set the tone for a poor kicking day for both sides. B’s then missed a penalty kick of their own, this one coming from a more difficult long range effort.
In the early exchanges the first couple of scrums were won easily by the B’s pack and this superiority led to the first try, after eleven minutes, as they got the nudge on from a scrum only 10 meters from the Pershore line. The scrum rumbled forward with the ball well controlled at No.8 Mark Galpin’s feet, as they reached the try-line, veteran Scrum Half Billy Minshull dived on the ball to score. The subsequent conversion attempt went wide, but B’s looked well-set for continued success at scrum-time.
A Berkswell rolling maul was stopped illegally by Pershore, some five meters from the visitor’s line; B’s elected to take a quick tap, but couldn’t manoeuvre the ball over the line and the ball was cleared. Pershore then got themselves back level with a move which, though against the run of play, was very well taken. Good play from their half-backs set-up Pershore’s diminutive outside Centre; he still had three players to get past, but achieved this with some impressive changes of direction and was helped by some shoddy B’s tackling. The visitor’s try also went unconverted, to leave the scores locked at 5-5 after 23 minutes.
There followed a period of disjointed play. Berkswell were creating the chances – twice being denied when at, or over, the Pershore line and once when wing Phil Allport was called pack from dotting down due to a forward pass earlier in the move. Pershore still looked dangerous when they could get their running game together, but lack of ball from set plays was restricting their plans. Eventually – and just before the halftime whistle – Berkswell got their noses in front. Sam Bignall put a penalty into touch and Galpin took the lineout, a drive for the line was held, but B’s moved the ball infield and set-up another forward’s drive. This time they got over the line and again it was Minshull with the touchdown. James Fahy converted with the last kick of the half for a 12-5 lead.
Berkswell began the second half with two quick tries. First they broke up a Pershore attack by snatching turnover ball at a ruck; Roman Coombes made progress and then fed Joe Cart, who powered his way clear of the defence to go over. Within minutes B’s scored again; Galpin securing the home side’s bonus point when finishing off a move in the left-hand corner which saw the ball swept the width of the field in three long passes, after a forward drive had become bogged down, near the line, on the right. Both tries went unconverted, but they gave B’s a commanding 22-5 lead.
The next twenty minutes produced few chances and was punctuated by stoppages, as both sides suffered minor injuries and visibly tired. It was very scruffy and the final try after 83 minutes was the only clear chance. Allport gained solace following his earlier disallowed try by rounding off a move down the right, after Pershore had again surrendered possession, when trying to run the ball out of defence. The final minutes saw Pershore exert pressure, as they looked for the final score of the game, but the referee’s whistle came before they had found a way through.
Bill Minshull (2)
Joe Cart (1)
Mark Galpin (1)
Phil Allport (1)
James Fahy (1)