Brewin Dolphin U17 Cup: Enniskillen 18 Instonians 8

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After a hard game against Ballynahinch on Monday night, in losing their league play-off quarter-final, ‘Skins bounced back in the opening cup tie against Instonians.

Saturday 13th February. Report by Andrew Smallwoods.

The Inst side came to Enniskillen on the back of some high scoring games in the past fortnight, but ‘Skins carried the ball to them right from the start and put some good high kicks to the fullback, who was looking somewhat shaky, and the good early pressure led to a penalty, converted by Sean Michael Breen for a great three point start.

Enniskillen continued to press the visitors, carrying the ball well through the forwards, and they were soon rewarded with another penalty, This time Paddy McCleary took the quick tap and squeezed over for the try, extending the lead to eight points.

As a lot of teams have a tendency to do, ‘Skins took the foot off the pedal and allowed the visitors to get themselves back into the game. Some poor tackling allowed the opposing outhalf to run though a porous defence to open their account with an unconverted try, leaving the halftime score at 8 – 5.

The second period started with ‘Skins again applying some pressure through the forwards but were unable to add to the score. Then Inst levelled when a counter attacking break led to a penalty. It was nip and tuck at this stage and ‘Skins earlier tactic of kicking to the fullback was starting to backfire as he grew in confidence, fielding and returning the ball dangerously at the home defence. Breen then edged ‘Skins in front with a truly excellent kick, but it was a precarious lead with Inst hitting the upright with a penalty attempt of their own shortly after.

Hanging on to a slender lead, the Enniskillen coaching staff became exasperated with the referee who’s watch appeared to have stopped as he continued playing for what seemed like ten minutes over the allotted time, and this in turn led to some harsh words to them from the official. However, this only served as a starter to the main course which followed. ‘Skins forwards started releasing the backs with some sweeping moves down field, and this was finished off when prop Aaron Love found himself in space on the right wing and used his pace and power to crash over for the try to seal the win, with Breen again converting.

A good win for ‘Skins, but one which they must analyse closely with plenty to work on in training before they travel to Monaghan for the next game on February 27th. They need to learn how to vary their gameplan as the match evolves, changing tactics if needed. Also, the forwards, who performed excellently, need to know the right time to release their backline as at times they were guilty of taking too much off the ball and carrying one time too many.

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