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1st XV Ballymoney Match Report and 3rd XV Strabane Match report.


Ballymoney 1XV 19

Enniskillen 1XV 23

Enniskillen 1XV took a well-deserved 4 points on Saturday, in what was a tough away trip to a well drilled Ballymoney Side.

Skins pack showed their intent from the outset putting pressure on Ballymoney from the restart and after several phases in the opposition half were rewarded for their efforts with a penalty, which Adam Lendrum happily converted.

The next ten minutes was a battle for dominance, in a game where both sides wanted to control the tempo. It was beginning to look like the Enniskillen men were winning that battle with the scrum dominating the opposition. NO. 8 Ricky Lee was making some very strong carries tying in the opposition back row and allowing Lendrum to pin Ballymoney back with some superb tactical kicking.

However the men in blue had other ideas and some poor first up tackling allowed the fullback to slip through the first line of defence only to be fortunately tackled by his opposite number Michael Law. As the Enniskillen defence scrambled back Ballymoney saw the space out wide and quickly moved the ball to score an unconverted try out wide. 3-5

Enniskillen reacted as they should and as soon as they could regain possession a strong carry from Jamie Johnston brought play up to the 22. Good ball retention and patience through the phases led to play moving to the 5metre line. A well timed pass from scrum half Ricky Connor found Alan Wilkinson running a good line to break the defence and score under the posts leaving the conversion a formality for Lendrum. 10-5

Another period of forward combat in the Ballymoney half again went in Skins’ favour, with a penalty from Lendrum just before the half leaving the score 13-5 at the break.

The second half couldn’t have started worse for Enniskillen as some indiscipline allowed Ballymoney to kick to the corner and after several attempts they finally managed to score from the resulting maul. 13-12

Again the reaction from the Enniskillen men was to be commended as they quickly went about righting the wrong. Superb tackling notably from Michael Cadden, Kaine Holden and Gavin Warrington thwarted any attempt from Ballymoney to build again. As Enniskillen dominated the territory outhalf Lendrum seized his opportunity to slip through a gap in the defence and Support from Wilkinson led to a 2 on 1 with the fullback, a sure try, only prevented by the Ballymoney 7 tackling Wilkinson without the ball – a clear case for a penalty try to everyone in the ground except the referee, who deemed a yellow card sufficient. Lendrum swiftly added the 3 points form the resulting penalty. 16-12.

Play moved back and forward with the game largely being played between the 22’s. However Enniskillen were again instruments of their own destruction as the next points went to Ballymoney. Some really poor tackling in the centre allowed the Ballymoney 12 to run from the 10 metre line to score a converted try. 16-19

Thankfully Enniskillen had more than a losing bonus point on their mind. Some unrivalled work at the breakdown by David Buchannon saw Enniskillen rewarded with a penalty. With the opposition down to 7 forwards Enniskillen went to the corner and after a good maul, the ball found its way to Jamie Johnston who was simply unstoppable from close range. Again Lendrum added the extras to leave the score 23-19. The last 5 minutes of the game were an unbearably tense ordeal for the Enniskillen contingent as accurate kicking from the Ballymoney out-half left them defending a line out on their own 5 metre line. Thankfully after some tenacious defence, uncomfortably deep in the Enniskillen half, the final whistle blew to register a fine victory for the visitors.

Coach Norman Richmond was clearly relieved to get the league campaign back on track with a rare victory over a former Q1 side who don’t often lose on their home patch.

“It was a hard fought win today against Ballymoney and it’s great to get our first points of the league this season. It was nip and tuck throughout but i think our lads showed that bit more desire today and it has put us back on track in the league.

“The front row dominated their Ballymoney counterparts today and David Buchanan was typically troublesome for the opposition with his physicality, while in the backs Adam Lendrum, just out of Portora, controlled the game well and continues to develop his game at out half. Michael Law also had a solid game coming in at full back in Ashley Finlay’s absence.

“We now have Randalstown this Saturday at home and they’re known to cause shock results on their day so we simply have to continue with that level of focus and desire if we want to push forward and contend for league honours.”


Enniskillen 3XV 17
Strabane 2XV 20

The 3rd XV season kicked off in pleasant sunshine at Mullaghmeen on Saturday. Due to a breakdown in communication Strabane arrived an hour late for kick-off, perhaps this unsettled the inexperienced skins side who started nervously conceding a penalty and the first points early on. However, led by their main ball carrier, the evergreen Ross Duncan who was often supported by the equally hungry Alan Ferguson, the forwards soon brought it to the larger Strabane pack and began to dominate them up front. With the rangy Frankie Fee assisted by his tenacious backrow partner, debutant Gordon Gregg covering a lot of ground in support, the backline began to spread the ball and stretch Strabanes defence. It was indeed good back play with a draw and give by the jinky running centre, debutant John McLaughry, that created the space for the fullback speedster Gareth Donaldson who duely beat the last defender to run in under the posts for his and Skins’ first try of the day. It was a welcome return after a season out for Donaldson who soon added his second, ignoring his support he showed good speed and strength to hand off and round three would be defenders before grounding. It wasn’t all going Enniskillens way, Strabane dominated the scrums and lineouts were a lottery at times, but it was their strong running outhalf who broke through some uncharacteristically weak tackles to register Strabanes first score. Unfortunately after the referee bizarrely allowed play to continue after the failed conversion attempt, Fee got an unlucky kick to the head after bravely diving on the ball resulting in him sitting the remainder of the half on the sideline. This didn’t deter the skins pack from going back on the attack, another debutant, prop Aaron Love moved into second row and immediately played his part in driving the pack forward through ruck and maul along with last years under 18 hooker Lee McDonnell, who looked thoroughly at home in senior rugby. After the skins pack were held short of the Strabane tryline it was the quick thinking of the new streamlined Stevie Tummons who caught everyone by surprise and picked up to and doze over from two yards out. Fresher scrumhalf Sam Greenaway who recycled consistently well all day converted third time lucky leaving the halftime score 17-8.
With retirement due to a recurring back injury of new daddy Adi Breen in the second half it was great to have the equally experienced lock Richie Grey come on and add his physicality to the game. Dean Cashel who had fielded and countered confidently on the wing also retired to allow the oldest team mate Jimmy Taggart to test himself after a long period of injury, and in usual form he carried ball with intent. However, it was a game of two halves and as skins tired Strabane grew stronger and after several breaks and attacks close to the skins tryline they finally got over reducing the deficit to a single score for a nervy last 15 minutes. Despite an inspired and equally unlikely kick chase by Ferguson, who also managed a subsequent turnover, and some excellent use of the wind when kicking to relieve the pressure by makeshift outhalf Mark Connors, welcomed back after a three year break, skins struggled to gain sufficient possession and territory. Chris Henry defended gallantly in mid field winning procession back several times, and in true captain spirit Richie Willis not only tackled but drove attackers backwards time after time to the final minute. Inevitably after conceding another penalty on their 22 metre line at the near death of the contest an exhausted skins couldn’t repel the onslaught, Strabane’s forwards recycled and dived over at the base of the post, duely converting to leave the final score 17-20 in the visitors favour. It seemed harsh, especially as just before the half time whistle impressive wing Ryan Irwin was very unfortunate not to gather the pass at the end of a great phase for a certain score to probably seal the win. However, some inexperience and a little lack of composure when in the lead, particularly tapping and going three times before coughing up possession, rather than using the wind to kick for touch and territory, and being marched 10 metres for throwing the ball away after conceding a penalty are small lessons to learn. Considering eight of this team are in their first year of senior rugby, and given the attitude and determination witnessed against formidable opposition, the future looks bright for this skins team as they prepare to face Finn Valley at home next Saturday.

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