Enniskillen rounded off their pre-season with a comfortable victory over the visitors from Tralee, scoring nine tries and conceding just one.
At the request of the visitors the game was played as three periods of twenty-five minutes each and the scoring stated as early as the fifth minute when a lineout inside the visitors “22” was well controlled and driven by the forwards to the line where John Courtney broke off the side to score the opening try. Despite referee Shane Toolan’s rather generously given opportunity for a second attempt at the conversion New Zealand import Clinton Brown could not add the extras, but did end up converting five on the day.
The opening period was all about the forwards as they controlled every facet of the game, and they were again rewarded when Toolan awarded ‘Skins a penalty try after ten minutes. This was then followed up fifteen minutes later when David Buchanan finished off a sweeping move for a seventeen point lead.
Five minutes into the second period James Prenter latched onto a loose ball at his own “22” and hacked the ball up field, eventually gathering it up about halfway, but despite support in the form of a jogging Gavin Warrington, Prenter literally fell short of the line. ‘Skins did keep the pressure on, and after opting for a scrum from a penalty, Courtney added his second try as the forwards drove over the Tralee line, increasing the lead to 24 – 0.
A lapse in defence then saw the visitors manage their only try of the game and certainly in a tighter competitive match would like to think such a lapse wouldn’t occur, but it went to highlight that no-one can afford to switch off even for a moment.
Despite this ‘Skins did get on the front foot again and with the second period coming to a close Michael Law danced his way into space to score the sixth try and create a 31 – 7 lead.
The forwards continued their domination and added two more tries through Prenter and Ryan Cathcart, before the backline added the final two. Firstly Michael Law picked up on a loose pass on halfway to break clear of the defence and round behind the posts, and finally Mark O’Shea rounded the scoring off after some great ball movement in the backline stretched the visitors, eventually creating a large gap which O’Shea gratefully accepted, rounding the last man for the closing score.
All-in-all a pleasing workout for the team, and achieved with the omission of skipper Alan Wilkinson. In his absence the midfield trio of outhalf Brown and centres Law and Nigel Johnston put in solid performances and gelled together well. The forwards were immense in their control and certainly James Carleton showed how much he could be missed when the season gets underway. However, newcomer Hazlitt Brian put in a sterling performance and showed certainly enough capability to step up into the gap.
A sterner test awaits this weekend as ‘Skins travel to Donaghadee, a side they narrowly pipped in last season’s Town’s Cup. Elsewhere the second XV make the journey to Belfast to face Instonians and will hope to start well despite their narrow loss to Cavan last weekend. Meanwhile the thirds have a home tie against Monaghan, and anyone not making the journey to watch either the 1st or 2nd XVs are asked to come along to Mullaghmeen and give them as much support as possible.