The long four hour trip south was not the ideal preparation for Deeside’s National Cup quarter final match with North Berwick, and combined with the prolonged lack of game time due to bad weather Deeside took a little longer than normal to get fully into their stride in this game.
North Berwick were a well drilled side and, like Deeside, are unbeaten in their league this season. For the first ten minutes Deeside were mostly defending but managed to disrupt and counter most of North Berwick’s backline moves. Both sides were penalised frequently at the break downs and when a North Berwick player was sin binned for throwing the ball away at a penalty Deeside had the first chance of points with a long range penalty, but the ball went just wide of the posts. It wasn’t long before Deeside were in a similar position at the other end of the pitch having been penalised for offside at the ruck and marched back 10 metres for indiscipline, thus presenting North Berwick with an easier kick at goal and resulting in 3 points for the home side. Deeside coped well under more pressure and as the first half drew to a close they started to find top gear and launched their best attack of the half just being held short of the line, but then penalised for holding on. North Berwick cleared and the half time whistle went, with the score 3-0.
The second half started with the same intensity as the first and despite Deeside substituting in the pack the scrum was still under intense pressure North Berwick showing a clear edge on technique. North Berwick’s first real opportunity came when a midfield move created enough confusion in the Deeside defence to allow the North Berwick fullback to create a two on one allowing the home side in at the corner, unconverted Deeside now trailed 8-0. The game shifted frequently back and forth with both sides having equal territory and both trying to find space for their wings. North Berwick’s second try was a stroke of bad luck for Deeside when Earle-Wright’s attempt to chip ahead was charged down by North Berwick’s No 8 and the ball popped up squarely for him to run in unchallenged. This time North Berwick’s kicker added the 2 points for the conversion and Deeside now found themselves trailing 15-0. The final 20 minutes of the game were Deeside’s best, having finally shaken off the long journey they turned up the pressure determined not to concede. Eventually the reward came with a quick tap distributed to Patrick Nicol at centre who used this winger to good effect to draw the defence and then just managed to weave and duck through to make the line. Angus Rennie added the conversion to make the score 15-7. Deeside pressure continued, confidence was high and North Berwick found themselves doing most of the defending. With time running out, a string of penalties that went Deeside’s way took them to within 5m of North Berwick line and another quick tap allowed Angus Rennie to use his strength to just make the line for a second score. Rennie converted his own try but the 35 minutes of the half were up and the referee blew for full time. This was a competitive well balanced game that with just a little more good luck could easily have gone Deeside’s way.