Steve Wake reports on Berkswell’s Midlands West Division 2 (South) encounter just over a week ago at Pershore on Saturday 25th February 2012:
Pershore – 19 Berkswell & Balsall – 18
Berkswell somehow contrived to dominate the first hour of this trip to Pershore, before throwing it away in the final quarter, as they allowed Pershore to overhaul a previously unanswered 18 point lead with three late tries to win by one point. Disaster might still have been averted, but for a kickable missed penalty in the last minute. This was a game where both sets of backs played some flowing, expansive rugby, with Pershore edging the try-count by three to two.
The visitors started brightly with good possession. Effective work from the forwards transferring the ball quickly from the scrum to their three-quarters saw Berkswell claim a deserved first try, finished off by a pacey run and try from James Knott on eleven minutes. Sam Bignall converted the try with the ensuing kick to claim a 7-0 lead.
The scoring could have really taken off from here, with numerous further first-half chances, particularly from the visitors, but the remainder of the first half scoring came from penalties. Deep into first-half injury time Bignall continued a successful sequence of penalty kicks, taking his personal tally to eight points and Berkswell’s halftime lead to 13-0.
The Bs took their form into the second half by dominating from the restart, but missing a difficult penalty after 45 minutes. Four minutes later their second try arrived when winger Ollie Eburne finished off some good backs play to get over the line in the left-hand corner. The difficult conversion was missed by Bignall, but with an 18-0 lead, Berkswell were seemingly in command.
Pershore had other ideas at this stage and began to exert some extended pressure on a Berkswell unit that had been reduced to 14 men while Lock Forward Andrew Caves served a ten minute sin-binning. Pershore began to probing for weaknesses in the Berkswell defence, but didn’t score until the B’s were restored to full strength. A well worked try at the 71 minute mark set alarm bells ringing in the Berkswell camp.
Suddenly the visitors found themselves under real pressure pinned in their own half, despite Pershore now being a man down following a yellow card offence. Pershore made their late surge begin to tell with further points in the last few minutes of normal time reducing the Bs lead to 18-12. Now finding the weight of momentum shifting in their favour the home side made the pressure tell with what appeared to last-gasp converted try, to lead by a single point three minute into injury time.
But the stunned visitors staged a last-ditched rally to win a penalty, having gone behind for the first time. Knott stepped-up hoping to seal a match they were on the verge of throwing away, but was just off-target. As the ball went wide, the referee signalled an end to proceedings and suddenly the Bs realised they had somehow contrived to lose in Worcestershire for the second week running.
James Knott (1)
Ollie Eburne (1)
Sam Bignall (1)
Sam Bignall (2)