North Berwick Win Regional Bowl

North Berwick won the opening match of the Scottish Hydro cup finals with a 13-8 win over Strathmore at Murrayfield Stadium today.

Highlights of cup finals day will be shown both on tomorrow’s [Sunday] STV Rugby show at 5.25pm, extended highlights will be shown on www.scottishrugbytv.com from Monday.

Read on for the full match report …

North Berwick won the opening match of the Scottish Hydro cup finals with a 13-8 win over Strathmore at Murrayfield Stadium today.

Highlights of cup finals day will be shown both on tomorrow’s [Sunday] STV Rugby show at 5.25pm, extended highlights will be shown on www.scottishrugbytv.com from Monday.

North Berwick imposed themselves on their Forfar opponents for large parts of the first-half and ended the first 40 minutes ten points to the good though they were made to work for their only try of the half which came one minute from the end of the first 40.

Before the scores came in, four chances went begging for East Lothian side – the first two were from the boot of man of the match winning North Berwick stand-off, Grant Craig, who sent two penalty kicks wide before the side came agonisingly close to getting their first try after 17 minutes.

Craig made a great break through the middle of the park from the half way line, before releasing big winger Craig Lauder who burst forward only to be tackled into touch right at the corner flag.

Their fourth opportunity was another attempt on the try line when the chasing North Berwick backs won the race to a lovely chip over the top from Craig but couldn’t control the ball and knocked on in the try area.

However, the Strathmore defence were adjudged to be offside as they sought to put pressure on Craig’s chip.

Craig slotted the resulting penalty and North Berwick got some points on the board, some 20 minutes before their try came in the final minute of the half.

Graeme Fairgrieve broke and fed the ball to outside-centre Peter Gannon, who gassed in on the angle from the 22 to score at the corner.

Craig converted with the last kick of the half, 10-0

HALF TIME: 10-0

After ten minutes of the half Strathmore bounced back the game with a score of their own.

After being awarded a penalty on their 10m line, full-back Brad McKenzie spotted it was on, marked the penalty, tapped and sped off down the park.

McKenzie then offered a neat pass to supporting winger Niall Lear who ran in the unconverted try, 10-5.

Craig and McKenzie then exchanged penalties on the 53rd and 56th minute to end the scoring for the match to hand the win, and the Scottish Hydro Regional Bowl, to the East Lothian side.

FULL TIME: 13-8

North Berwick full-back and man of the match, Grant Craig, said: “I was close to tears yesterday on three occasions just through phone calls alone.

“We’ve been in the league [Scottish Hydro East 1] for eight or nine years so to get promotion was brilliant but today is massive bonus for us, it’s the icing on the cake.”

North Berwick coach, Ken MacKaulay, added: “We’ve had some very tight last ten to 15 minutes over the course of the season, most of the time we’ve been chasing the game.

"It was quite an unusual experience to be leading but I had every confidence in the boys’ fitness given the number of games they’ve won in the last minute.”

NORTH BERWICK
Danny Waldman; Graeme Fairgrieve, Peter Gannon, Robert Ritchie, Craig Lauder; Grant Craig, Grant Spence; Craig Cockburn, Brian Buchanan, Alan Gallacher, Russell Freer, Iain Dove, Richard Macaulay, Tommy Dale, Jamie Dove
Substitutes
Danny Thorburn, Lee Inglis, Ben Inglis (FR), Stuart Smith, Ben Lowe, Jamie Armstrong, Cameron Ewer

STRATHMORE
Brad Mckenzie; Matt Marshall, Colin Strachan, Stewart Ross, Niall Lear; Mike Bruce, Lewis Knox; Craig Sim, Kyle Mitchell, George Strachan, Stuart Gray, John Westwood, Bruce Morrice, Colin Bell, Jamie Wilson CAPTAIN
Substitutes
Gary Durward, Tim Malkowski, James Kiely, Malcolm Lamont, Grant Watson, Gary Black, Jamie Mclaren

Man of the match: Grant Craig
Match officials
Referee: Jean Marie Burel
Assistant referee Walter Gaffney
Assistant referee: Jim Oswald
Fourth official: Kevin White
Fifth official: Bill Mitchell