Rugby: Berkswell continue fine run

Steve Wake reports on Berkswell’s Midlands West Division 2 (South) encounter at home on Saturday 10th December 2011:

Berkswell & Balsall – 23 Newbold – 3

The main difference between these two committed sides was that Berkswell’s defence withheld the visitor’s pressure, with some sterling defensive work, while taking their own chances at key points in the game. An early home try was all that divided the teams at halftime, before B’s extended their lead after the break, and finally sealed victory with two tries in the final minutes. Flanker Carl Parker bagged both of the late tries, to cap an outstanding performance, in which his enthusiastic tackling broke up numerous Newbold moves.


Berkswell were dealt an early blow as winger Jamie Rusk had to leave the field injured after just six minutes. Despite this, it was the B’s three-quarters who fashioned an early try, just minutes later; a sweeping move up the slope saw the ball moved rapidly along the line, with centre Dave McNidder looping around to take the ball over the line. After this early score the game got bogged down in the middle third. Newbold showed plenty of power and created good possession, but they were stopped in their tracks more often than not, by effective tackling from the home side.

The only clear chances for the remainder of the first half were penalty kicks, by B’s in the 23rd and 39th minutes and by Newbold in the 36th, but all were missed. As the game moved toward halftime it seemed that a low scoring game was in prospect. Newbold ended the half with some pressure on the Berkswell line – trying to take advantage of the slope – but the excellent home defence managed to hold them up and eventually reclaim possession, as the B’s forwards began to dominate their opposite numbers.

A further missed penalty by Newbold, in the opening minutes of the second half, added to the visitor’s frustration and the game became rather niggly. The referee quite rightly yellow-carded a player from each side, following a flare-up, after which the game settled down. Fullback James Fahy extended Berkswell’s lead in the 56th minute after another intelligent move by the home backs. Secured scrum ball was spun wide and then back inside, for Fahy to finish a rehearsed move. Sam Bignall nailed the conversion for 12-0 and six minutes later a Bignall penalty added another three points. Just after this Newbold answered with a penalty of their own, to make it 15-3 with ten minutes left.

The Berkswell forwards were by now well on top. Pushing the Newbold scrum backwards and driving the ball forward against their tiring opponents. From one of their driving mauls Carl Parker took the ball over the line to score, with Bignall adding the extras. More forward pressure ensued and great credit was due to the Newbold No.8, who was able to secure and feed ball from the back of his own scrum, despite going backwards at most of the sets. Eventually B’s scored their fourth try and it was that man Parker rounding-off an overlap in the right-hand corner. Bignall’s failed conversion attempt was the last kick of the match.

Scorers

Tries
Dave McNidder (1)
James Fahy (1)
Carl Parker (2)


Penalty
Sam Bignall (1)


Conversions
Sam Bignall (2)