Sat 21st Dec, 11:30 Enniskillen 17 – 0 Civil Service
Close encounter away to the league leaders
by Philip Anderson
Yet another bus trip for the u17s, this time to Enniskillen against the league leaders.
Buoyed by their performance the previous week against Portadown the U17s took to the pitch at Enniskillen against the league leaders. The home side have enjoyed a number of big wins this season and also can boast Ulster Youth representation in their ranks.
A competitive game of rugby was played out in bitterly cold conditions. The neutral observers were surprised to learn this was a top v bottom of the table clash.
Enniskillen crossed the Service line twice in the first half, and for the visitors Andrew Lilburn after a snaking run was adjudged not to have grounded the ball on crossing the home teams line. The TMO may have given a different opinion. Half time score; Enniskillen 10, Civil Service 0.
The second half saw Service press the home team line for sustained periods but failed to gain any reward. On another day quick penalties may have been permitted and some benefit had. With 5 minutes to go Enniskillen broke out and scored under the Service posts, conversion successful. The game was lost but the determination was still there as the visitors thwarted further attempts to cross their line in the final minutes.
Final score: Enniskillen 17, Civil Service 0.
Was a big performance today by Service against the league leaders and there was no shame in losing. At least one score would have been a just reward for the visitors.
Our thanks are extended to our hosts for their post match hospitality.
Away day angst at Armoy as sloppy Service suffer
by Brinley Sturgeon
Service completed a month to forget as they rounded off a dismal December with a turgid defeat at Armoy
Service made the trip to Armoy with a depleted, but still capable side, on a wet and windy day that mirrored their ragged display. They will be deeply disappointed with 3 league losses this month and some changes will be required to regain some of the form and the style of play that they started off the campaign with
They kicked off into a blustery wind but some of the organisation had gone out of their game and with chasers up at random the home side found it easy to clear their lines with the wind adding distance to their kicks. The lineouts were hit and miss with the wind adding unpredictability and with only one option in their 7 Service did well to disrupt and steal ball there. Armoy had made some progress towards the Service 22 but a quick succession of offsides saw their number 5 warned. When the penalty was tapped and taken the same player then made no attempt to tackle but instead led with his elbow, leading to a foolish yellow card. However this seemed to galvanise the hosts and a period of pressure was put on the Service line. The first few crash balls were well defended in close but the ball was put out just a little further and the higher tackles were futile in stopping them thunder over for the first try which was duly converted just before their full complement was returned.
With Service’s usual weak start behind them thy then put together some of their best play of the match. Ball was recycled well and pods of forwards tested the Armoy defence. A penalty was given in front of the posts which Alastair Montgomery, in his last match for the club before leaving to live in New Zealand, took quickly and passed to captain, Michael Murray. All the Armoy players and most of the supporters were completely taken in by the 2nd rowers’ body swerve and as the covering tackle came across he deftly popped the ball to hooker Richard Anderson to score, the conversion levelling the match at 7-7.
The match was well poised at this point, the wind making things difficult for both sides didn’t help the spectacle and play was scrappy. When Armoy did look like breaking through Chris Burns smartly intercepted and put along kick downfield into unguarded territory. Fullback Peter Hoskins sprinted clear and just had to recover the ball to score but unfortunately his one handed attempt to pick it up only knocked the ball forwards. With the referee playing advantage Armoy made a swift and dangerous break but a thumping tackle from the chasing Chris Burns nipped it in the bud. With both sides struggling with the conditions the half seemed to be petering out until the very last few minutes when the hosts put together a series of close, hard hitting crash balls. The visiting defenders were sucked in all too easily and, despite the captains’ cries of ‘mayday, mayday’ the line was too sow to react and with the ball spread to their right, Armoy were able t score out wide with Kenny Dane left hopelessly outnumbered on the wing. The conversion was a good attempt given the swirling wind but landed wide just before half time to leave the visitors 12-7 down and with centre George Brown traipsing off the field with what turned out to b a dislocated shoulder while trying to repel the Armoy attack.
I was then seconded to ambulance duty to bring George to hospital but with 14 men and 12-7 down the signs were ominous and a 31-7 final score was not a surprise, however some things will need to change and individuals will need to look at themselves if results are going to turn around. The next match is at home to Virginia and we want to settle the score after a narrow defeat to them earlier this season.