Steve Wake reports on how Berkswell’s incredible run of victories in the Midlands West Division 2 (South) came to an end with a narrow defeat on the road to Old Laurentians on Saturday 17th December:
Old Laurentians 13 – Berkswell & Balsall 10
This was a close game in which Berkswell played below par and missed several clear chances. In the end it proved to be Old Laurentians (OL) first half scores which sealed their victory. Berkswell pulled back to within three points early in the second half, but couldn’t take any of their further chances. OL’s had second-half opportunities of their own, but also failed to turn them into points. On a cold, windy day, both sides struggled with their kicking and for once the visitor’s forwards couldn’t turn their dominance into points
The game was only three minutes old when Berkswell’s Cameron Hunt kicked the ball through and into the OL’s in-goal area, but failed to ground the ball. This set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. B’s enjoyed the better of the play for the first ten minutes, but they struggled to break through the home cover. OL’s came more into the game after this and a series of unforced errors by the visitors handed the home side several chances to open the scoring. One of these they took, after sixteen minutes, by kicking a penalty.
After half an hour’s play OL’s moved further ahead with a converted try. It was an enterprising try by the home left wing, but three missed tackles by the B’s defence contributed as for once, Berkswell’s Scrooge-like defence was found wanting. Five minutes later B’s found themselves 13-0 down as OL’s kicked a second penalty. Just before halftime a possible way back for Berkswell manifested itself; their forwards, who had the upper-hand most of the afternoon, scored a push-over try near the posts. Mark Galpin claimed the try and Sam Bignall kicked the conversion to end the half with OL’s 13-7 ahead.
The second half, like the first, began well for Berkswell. They reduced the arrears to just three points after 51 minutes with a Bignall penalty and further pressurised the home defence. The visitors were not at their best however and often took the wrong option when in good positions – many times electing to run straight at the OL’s defence instead of finding width to get around it. It was by no means one-way traffic though; OL’s had their chances too, with the B’s defence snuffing out several promising home moves.
As the game drifted to a finish both sides tried, and failed, to land difficult penalties in weather which certainly didn’t favour the kickers. In the end OL’s probably did just about enough to win, but Berkswell will hope to emerge from the festive break, with less errors in their play, helping turn more of their possession into points.
The league campaign gets underway again in the new year when Berkwell take on Upton-on-Severn on 7th January 2012.
Mark Galpin (1)
Sam Bignall (1)
Sam Bignall (1)