Enniskillen 1st XV v Lisburn 1st XV (20th November 2010) courtesy of Tom Porter Photography – FOR SLIDESHOW CLICK HERE (should anyone require high resolution copies contact Tom on 07740 676076)
Following their forgettable display the previous week against Omagh, the Corus sponsored Lisburn bounced back last Saturday to take two valuable Qualifying League 2 points on the road against near rivals Enniskillen. In an entertaining match in dry conditions, Lisburn, playing up the incline, repulsed the early Enniskillen pressure and within 10 minutes had pushed out into a 0-6 lead thanks to two well struck penalties by outhalf Mark Crothers. Enniskillen recovered quickly and their bigger pack started to make headway against their lighter counterparts as they charged down into the pavilion end seeking their first try. This came on the 25 minute mark from a tap penalty following a scrum infringement and the Enniskillen pack drove over under the posts. The conversion gave them a 7-6 lead. The two kickers then exchanged penalties before Lisburn again reclaimed the lead following a mazy run by scrumhalf Nicky Craig and then quick hands to winger Simon Gardiner who went in at the corner. In injury time the Enniskillen No 8, who was using his upper body strength all game to create trouble for the visitors, went in under the posts from close range to regain the lead once again and the simple conversion sent the homesters in at the interval with a 17-14 lead.
After the interval, Lisburn might have been forgiven for thinking that it would be easier with the slope at their back but Enniskillen had other ideas. Much of the half they spent defending their line against the marauding home pack but after 15 minutes they had a bit of bad luck when a garryowen out of defence bounced unkindly in the follow up and the receiver gratefully charged up the line to provide a target for his pack who then rucked the ball over the Lisburn line for a 24-14 lead.
At this stage it looked as if the home pack were starting to get on top but the Lisburn eight, having learned a severe lesson on the benefits of persistency and application in the previous week, came back strongly. The scrum had improved from the frailties evident in the early part of the game and their lineout work ensured clean possession throughout. Feisty work in the rucks was proving a huge asset and they were rewarded early into the final quarter when quick ball was eventually streamed to left wing Adam Melville who had enough pace and strength to dive over for the score. A magnificent touch line conversion from Crothers brought up 24-21 and with fifteen minutes left there was everything to play for.
The Enniskillen pack resumed service by camping inside the Lisburn 22 but despite all their efforts they could not punch in the final try to give themselves a bonus point and even spurned a kickable penalty to go for a close in lineout. This failed and as the final whistle came closer, Lisburn started to probe in open play where their strong running backs seemed to have a slight edge. A break out from their own 22 with just two minutes remaining almost gave them the winning try but the ball went to ground just metres from the Enniskillen line where an infringement gave Mark Crothers the final say and his successful penalty resulted in an even division of the spoils on a 24-24 scoreline. Both sets of supporters gave an audible sigh of relief at the end of what was a breathless but satisfying game of rugby and while Enniskillen will be sorry to have lost two points, Lisburn, on the road, will have welcomed theirs.