Enniskillen RFC Notes: I XV 18 v UUC RFC I XV 34 ~ II XV 22 v Ballynahinch IV 15 ~ U19 I XV 17 v Sligo RFC U19 I XV 14 + Skins Legends Play Again!

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UUC – 34 Enniskillen – 18

A disappointing first-half display from ‘Skins left them with far too much to do and allowed Coleraine a deserved but slightly flattering victory.

The hosts were quickly into their stride and their speedy winger and back three quickly tested the ‘Skins defence. Some poor first-up tackling conceded two tries and combined with a penalty ‘Skins found themselves 15 points down in as many minutes.

‘Skins then started to get the journey out of their system and camped in the opposing “22” where a series of scrums followed but alas no try came. Then following a turnover deep in the UUC half the ball was transferred to their winger, who outpaced the cover and passed to the supporting no 8 to score and leave the scoreboard 20 – 0.

The only thing ‘Skins had to show for a disappointing start was a Dale McMaster penalty, making it 20 – 3 at the interval.

UUC scored first in the second half with a converted a try, but for much of the remainder of the game there was only one team in it. The ‘Skins forwards totally dominated the home pack with some powerful scrummaging and terrific mauling. They started to offer themselves as runners and time and time again, Murray, Ferguson, Parke and Brien carried the ball forward. Two tries followed from Buchanan and Brien, but several more chances were missed.

At 27 – 18, and with time running out ‘Skins tried to run the ball from their own line, a mistake was made and the hosts were gifted a try under the posts.

It was a fine second half display by ‘Skins who will rue the loss of so many points from missed kicks. If they continue this style of play then they can remain competitive in all matches for the rest of the season.

Enniskillen II – 22 Ballynahinch IV – 15

Enniskillen scored a much-needed home win last Saturday when they beat Ballynahinch 22 – 15.

Hardly had the game kicked off than the home side were down to fourteen men, losing prop Auterson to an early injury., but despite this ‘Skins had the better of the opening engagements and opened the scoring with a penalty by Daniel Allister.

‘Skins then increased their lead with a fine try by Paul Burns which was converted leaving the half-time score 10-3.

‘Hinch started the second half more strongly, taking the offensive with a freshening wind and took play deep into ‘Skins’ half, where following good pressure they scored a converted try and then shortly afterwards took the lead with an unconverted try.

Things got worse when ‘Skins had a player yellow-carded when he reacted to being the target of a gouging incident, but it was the home side however who finished stronger, dominating the last ten minutes. Matt Drumm scored a fine try in the corner to level the scores and then with the whistle almost to the referee’s lips, ‘Skins were awarded a penalty too far out to kick, but some unsolicited advice from a ‘Hinch forward to the referee brought the penalty forward a full thirty metres! Emmet McFadden narrowly missed the kick, but instead of clearing their line the visitors decided to run the ball back and then it was kicked stright to Trevor Whittaker, who after a fine run offloaded to Richard O’Callaghan lwhich ed to a converted try under the posts for a last-gasp but very welcome victory.

A Great Performance

Enniskillen Under 19 – 17 Sligo Under 19 – 14

It’s often said that when a team is down one man the effort is turned up to the extent that they play as if they had one man extra on the pitch and that theory was well and truly put to the test on Saturday when Enniskillen under 19s took on Sligo under 19s in a pre Christmas friendly at Mullaghmeen.

Sligo arrived with their full complement of players and in good time, however Enniskillen had once more been let down by quite a few of their regular players so it was with some relief that fifteen bodies adorned in the Enniskillen colours eventually took to the pitch. Both sides realised prior to kick off that conditions were far from ideal. A heavy sodden pitch, bitterly cold temperatures and a biting wind looked to have ruled out any chance of exhibition youth rugby and increased the risk of player injury, a worrying point in Enniskillen’s case.

Opening play was a stuttering affair with both sides making tentative, probing incursions into each other’s halves. Sligo dominated the scrums, usually driving Enniskillen back the permitted one and a half metres but with such soft ground underfoot Enniskillens forwards could do little to prevent this. The home side was however securing nearly all of their own ball and those stalwarts of the front row, Love, McCaffrey and McCrabbe must be paid credit for that. It wasn’t such a happy time for Sligo in the lineout where, although not reigning supreme, Gormley and Flanagan were literally head and shoulders above the opposition and making the most of it with McCaffrey’s throwing on target nearly every time. Some cracks in Enniskillen’s play became evident when Sligo players ran seemingly unchallenged to near the home side’s 22 metre line. Enniskillen were on the back foot and trying to regroup when eventually Sligo pressed home their advantage and went over for a converted try.

In the second half Enniskillen rallied and several times patiently worked their way down into the Sligo “22”, eventually capitalising on their hard work, when after several phases of open play, Gormley crashed through and stretched out just far enough to make the Sligo goal line. Unfortunately the two point trimmings weren’t added.

An experimental reshuffling of full back and out half at half time had worked quite well up until both were sent off for some hot headed play that must have had Sligo players and coaches rubbing their hands and having a crafty snigger. Inevitably Sligo made good use of the numerical advantage and drove downfield again to bag seven points.

In the last 12 minutes of play, Enniskillen’s play was inspired, whether divine or that found when looking down the barrel of the proverbial gun, the thirteen players to a man battered their way into Sligos left wing. Led by those Minotaurs of the pack, Love, McCrabbe and Sandford, the rest came on like ravenous hunters, remorseless in their hunt of the ball. Moffitt, once within striking distance of the Sligo line, decided time was of the essence and crashed through and over for an unconverted score from a short distance out.

With now only 7 minutes left Enniskillens two repentants were allowed to climb off the “naughty step” and come back into the game. Back to a full fifteen Enniskillen really upped the tempo and fought for every scrap. Barrett, McNulty and Daley were superb in the chase of some of Lynams brilliant box kicks and in the forwards Arnold, in particular, was having an outstanding performance, his tackling and turnover ball rate showing the way with Flanagan, McCaffrey and Gormley following close behind.

But the cherry on the cake came when the two “naughty boys”, Breen and Maguire conspired to make amends and break Sligo hearts. A brilliantly weighted chip over the Sligo defensive line into the in-goal area by Maguire was pounced on by Breen whose quick action had beaten the forlorn hope that was Sligos rearguard. To add to Sligos chagrin the conversion was good.

Whoever said, “Its not the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog!” never spoke a truer word and these fifteen Enniskillen players proved that to themselves in a big way against Sligo who currently top their league.

Credit should go to the players that did turn out, and for the odd guest player, and as that famous Bard put it, “Those that lay abed on Saturday morning must feel themselves accursed”, (and yes honestly, he played rugby as well! Really!). So for that band of brothers, those happy few (15), well done guys, it was a brilliant performance!!!

Last week Enniskillen put a team of over-35 “legends” together and travelled to face Lurgan Legends.

The Legends league consists of 4 matches, 2 home and 2 away, with the league winner then going into a semi final with the other winners.

This format gives the more mature player who hasnt played in a while and who perhaps can’t commit to every Saturday as well as those semi-retired the chance to play some fairly competitive rugby.

You might think with age players lose the competitive spirit but no, as with riding a bike you never forget how, and as the whistle went the competitve glint was back in their eye.

It was a great game of rugby with some great skill and players still with an eye for a gap. Enniskillen were first on the score board but Lurgan soon replied with some great rugby themselves. At the final whistle Enniskillen just pipped Lurgan with a late surge of tries and one that would certainly stand out as try of the season so far.

Starting in their own “22” quick ruck ball was moved to Ross Duncan on the crash then some offloading out of the tackle and great passing along the line found Jimmy Moore on the wing, who “glided” 60 metres to score, magnificent stuff!

As Enniskillen have come in at late notice for a team that could’nt field, the remainder of the games will be re-scheduled for February and March. Anyone who would like to play give Jimmy Moore, Gary Law or Rob Watson a call.

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