Berwick Bears 27 Tynedale Centurions 28

ON a weekend which saw most sporting fixtures postponed due to the weather, Tynedale’s third choice XV played through horrendous conditions away to Berwick Bears.

The game kicked off in a blizzard, which eventually turned to sleet showers, tumbling down horizontally in a ferocious wind.

But the Centurions were rewarded for their sterling efforts in North Northumberland, edging an exciting game of pace and power to defeat the County River Aln League leaders by a single point.

Playing against the storm in the first half, the mid-table Centurions had to defend resolutely for long periods, and were helped by try-saving tackles from Jake Sloan, Rory Dixon, and debut wingers Darwin Currie and Zac Walsh.

Several drives to the line by the big Berwick pack were halted by last ditch defending from the forwards with Ed Weir, Rory Craney and George Hendry putting their bodies on the line.

Something had to give after such prolonged pressure, and Berwick managed to force their way over from close range wide out for two tries.

In a rare foray upfield, Tynedale’s Andy Harvey, Ian Charlton and Oliver Hillary linked to drive close. James Sample drove over from the resulting ruck but the referee was unsighted and did not award the try.

However, the Centurions remained positive at half time after restricting the Bears’ lead to 10-0. The introduction of brothers Cam and James Grant, with the wind in their favour saw Tynedale gain the upper hand after the break. James Grant dived on a loose ball to regain possession, and link with Jacob Brown who, despite being held, kept the move alive before Cam Grant brushed aside Berwick defenders to score from 20 metres.

A fine move from halfway by Berwick restored their lead, before Tynedale centres Micky Hall and Martyn Hutton combined well in midfield, enabling and Seth Kippax-Jones to glide over from close range.

As both teams tired deep into the second half and players began to lose feeling in their hands in the icy temperatures, mistakes began to be made.

From a dropped ball, the Bears scored from long range. This was immediately answered when Tynedale’s Ethan McLeod landed a thumping tackle in midfield. Callum Foxcroft collected the ball to feed Dixon, who showed his power to crash through the covering defence for a fine try which gave Tynedale the lead for the first time in the match.

Dan Heppell had a chance to extend the lead further, following a brilliant run from halfway, but a fine-try saving tackle prevented him from reaching over.

Berwick were able to clear and a late flourish led to a try halfway to touch. A difficult conversion into the wind was just missed by Berwick.

The home side had one final play and managed to work the ball to halfway, but a superb tackle from Tynedale’s Ollie Morrell loosened the ball and a much-relieved Tynedale were able to hack the ball to touch for the final whistle.

This was an outstanding game given the atrocious conditions with the Centurions toppling the league leaders. One key difference was that Cam Grant was able to convert all four tries, while Berwick only managed one conversion from their five.

Next up for the Centurions is a home clash with Novos III on Saturday, March 7.