Dungannon 2nd XV 6
Enniskilen 1st XV 27
Enniskillen 1st XV finally achieved form last Saturday and exorcised the demons of a woeful January to register a win against Dungannon 2nd XV, thereby booking a place in the next stage of the Town’s Cup.
Things looked slicker from Skins at the offset and the improved weather conditions and excellent playing surface seemed to suit the side better than the slow, arduous games of previous weeks. The scrum started well and improved throughout while the line out functioned flawlessly, making life easy for a back line that looked deadly with ball in hand against their Dungannon opposition. The forward pack were also much hungrier in defence and their improved intensity at the ruck, as well as a tenacious James Ferguson at scrum-half, made attacking play flow much more effectively.
Skins looked focused from the kick off and worked their way diligently into the Dungannon half. The home side were determined to make hard work of the breakdown, often illegally, and penalties began to come Enniskillen’s way which greatly helped the battle for territory. Play came up to inside the 22’ after well worked play from the backs off a line out and the forwards carried to the line well before Captain David Buchanan spotted a gap on the blindside of the ruck, powering over to score in the corner, unconverted to go 5-3 up.
The referee struggled to achieve a stable scrum in the early period and Dungannon got the penalty early on following a collapse to kick for 3 points to stay on the visitors’ heels. From the restart Skins carried well through the back row of Johnston, Lee and Carleton to pressure the home side and Skins soon claimed another penalty that Lendrum slotted to go 8-3 up.
Dungannon tried to kick for territory in the following period but the counter attack from the back three of Balmer, Finlay and Baloucoune was devastating. Ferguson was ever threatening around the fringes at 9 and broke around the edge of the ruck just inside the Dungannon half and offloaded to Finlay who fed Baloucoune, the winger then cut through the home defence and utilised his raw pace to score under the posts, converted to go 15-3 up.
Skins continued to look comfortable heading towards the end of the first half and moved the ball wide with ease as the forwards linked in well with the backs. Another surge down the wing was well supported by the forwards and Cathcart improvised at scrum half to provide quick ball to Lendrum who hit Ashley Finlay on a perfect line through the Dungannon defence for another score under the posts, converted to go 22-3 up at half time.
The second half was a much more even contest as Dungannon seemed spurred on by their earlier poor showing The home side held onto the ball more earnestly now and a big defensive effort was asked of Enniskillen. The pack worked tirelessly to shut down some of the home side’s big ball carriers and Jack Harte was ever present with a high tackle count. Dungannon came away with one penalty from the pressure but didn’t really threaten the Skins line. Skins pressured the Dungannon line out well on occasion and Johnston got hands on innumerable overthrows at the tail to end attempts from the home side to build pressure. After weathering the storm for a period the front row turned over a Dungannon scrum on half way with a huge surge to regain possession. Some piercing back play and a line break from Alan Ferguson had Skins asking questions of Dungannon deep in their half yet again. The home side dealt well with Skins’ efforts to add to the try tally for the next while as they held off a few dominant scrums and close quarter carries. Eventually, as Skins tried to set up a maul from the line out on the 5 metre line, the home side stood off hoping to gain the penalty but Holden was quick to react and crossed the line for a try, unconverted to leave the final score 27-6.
It was a much improved performance from Enniskillen and a good reminder of their potential. While cup victories are a great boost for morale, the 1st XV now return to league duty and, given recent league form, they will be underdogs as they head to league leaders Instonians this weekend. Skins are never to be underestimated though and if they find their form again they could pull out another upset to top the home victory they gained over the Belfast side back in October.
Carrickfergus 3XV 0
Enniskillen 2XV 19
Saturday witnessed a return to the pitch of the mighty skins 2nd XV that have returned to winning ways with two clean sheets now on the trot.
Captain Dick Willis once again did not fail to bring a classy side to the pitch for the away match at Carrick, with the boys showing skill and strength in all positions. The game started at a high tempo, with Skins well on the front foot. The conditions were unfavourable with high winds and a drenched pitch, but the Fermanagh bog men seemed more comfortable in the conditions than the home side. With great lines coming in from Bradshaw and Derek Elliott, the skins forwards were dominating the game. The makeshift scrum half McCabe had a good game out of his usual position at hooker and was throwing great ball to John Maguire who had a brilliant day at number 10.
The backs had a difficult day handling the ball due to the high gusts of wind but when O’Shea and Hendy eventually caught the ball there was good ground made. The 2 tries in the first half came from John Maguire courtesy of beautiful play off the backs when a clever pass from Law gave Maguire a clear run over the try line. Maguire converted one of the two leaving the score at half time 13-0.
The Carrick side regrouped at halftime, showing some impressive play nearly beating the Skins boys on the wings on a few occasions. Skins reacted to this with big carries from the forwards which the Carrick side did well to defend, denying the burgundy boys several try scoring opportunities on their own try line. The break eventually came when Thornton saw a gap from the back of a ruck on the 5 metre line and placed the ball over the line with Maguire converting, leaving the final score at 19-0.
This win leaves the 2nd XV top of their league with the title race well and truly on as they head to Instonians this weekend and the end of the season draws near.
Enniskillen 3rd XV 37
Omagh 4th XV 10
Skins 3rd XV returned to winning ways at home to local rivals Omagh last Saturday. A slow start and weak tackling allowed the Omagh 8 to break through under the posts for a 7-0 lead. This was followed by skins’ own 8 Duncan receiving a yellow card due to the referee’s interpretation of one of the new laws, to the bemusement of most. With flanker Cadden on a warning and a high penalty count in the visitors’ favour it was looking ominous. However, a spell of good possession and pack pressure allowed swift passing along the backline for wing Cunningham to sprint over for skins’ first try, converted by McVitty. Soon afterwards the good play continued as hooker Armstrong made a break and, although the ball was spilled, supporting prop Park showed good pace to play the ref’s advantage and score in the corner. McVitty added a penalty to leave the score 15-7 at halftime.
Omagh replied with their own penalty to start the second half, but that was to be their final score and quickly cancelled out by a penalty from McVitty, whose lovely new red boots were in fine form. Skins exerted their dominance with accurate lineout ball from returning hooker Fee and dominant scrummaging from prop Baker, giving scrum-half Greenaway plenty of time to supply the backline quality ball. Lock Grey carried tirelessly, however, it was forwards Duncan and Cadden who scored to seal the win and bonus point. Stand-in captain at centre Wilkinson deservedly completed the scoring in the final play after a break and slick hands from Hurst at 10 put him clear in the corner. The team hope the 37-10 derby victory will please absent captain Tummon whose season was ended prematurely due to illness but is on the road to recovery. Now sitting second in the league, facing leaders Ballymoney in a month will be an important game. Before that, however, more importantly Skins face Portadown at home in the quarter final of the McCambley cup on the 18th February, all support welcome.
Donaghadee U15 Girls 0
Enniskillen U15 Girls 37
Enniskillen Under 15 girls took the long trip to Donaghadee on Sunday in the quest to take the next step towards the league title. The girls took on a spirited Donaghadee side that had a never say die attitude. From the start skins took the game to their opponents with charging runs though the midfield, receiving their reward after 6 minutes with a fine try from Captain Lauren Kilfedder. India Daley soon got in on the act with a solo effort from 40 meters to leave Skins 10 – 0 ahead after 15 minutes. The pack worked tirelessly all day to give the backs the platform they craved to display their devastating form. Lauren Kilfedder added two more tries for a first half hat-trick to leave Skins 20 – 0 ahead at the break.
The second half continued in the same vein with two more tries for India Daly to give her a hat-trick for the day. The scoring was rounded off by a classy try from Michelle Elliot which was converted by Nadine Hunter to leave the final score 37-0. Donaghadee had no reply for the pace and power that Skins brought to the game with the Enniskillen back three of Moya Hill, Zoe McCutcheon and Alanah Brennan in dazzling form, with Sophie Barrett destroying the midfield through powerfully direct running. Thanks must go to the travelling support for their encouragement. The girls now sit top of the league and unbeaten this year with two games to play. The next match will be a difficult trip to Virginia on the 19th February.