The Under 18 team continued to illustrate what a great sport rugby is on Saturday past as, although they have some undoubted star players, when it comes to match day or on the training park it is a pleasure to watch the entire squad give 100%, whether it be the speedy winger, the explosive strength of a centre or the larger players in the pack.
This was evident on Saturday morning when they had to make the long Journey to Newtownards, coming off the back of a free weekend and a very early start on the road, the Skins players and coaches were wary of the team harbouring cobwebs, but this was not to be the case.
Right from the start Enniskillen laid down a marker when, from a quick lineout on the halfway line, Skins got the ball out to winger Michael O’Hare who broke the line at speed off a well worked backline move, and drew two defenders before offloading to centre Tyler Millar, allowing him to cut open the Ards defence and power over the line for his 1st converted try of the day. Two minutes later young Millar was on the scoresheet again when, after great grunt work from the skins pack allowed some quick ball, he cut open the Ards back line to run in for his 2nd converted try of the day after 10 minutes.
The Ards team were shell shocked by these scores but credit must be given to them by the way they sought to come back into the game. Ards picked themselves up admirably and got their defence organised to keep the young skins at bay.
The next score came on the 32nd minute after great thinking by scum half Josh Kyle who executed a box kick at the back of a ruck; the chase from Aidan McKenna put severe pressure on the Ards fullback who spilled the ball and McKenna managed a skilful kick over the line and grounding for an unconverted try, leaving the score Skins 19-0 to the good at half time.
Skins started the second half in similar fashion with the pack dominating the ruck area with the help of David Jenkins and Owen McGovern, allowing number 8 Jamie Kelly to punch holes in the Ards defence with a lot of powerful ball carrying. Eventually after a line break Kelly offloaded to Flanker Eoin Cleary who made a couple of great side steps and powered over the line for his 1st converted try of the day on the 40th minute. Ards responded with great determination to score an unconverted try on the 45th minute, showing their refusal to lie down and getting on the scoreboard at 26-5. The young Skins side, however, didn’t rest on their laurels, and on the 50th minute a great off load by hooker Kieran Fee released Eoin Cleary, who made great work by sweeping past 4 defenders to power over the line for his 2nd converted try of the day. Young Millar finished off his second hat-trick of the season on the 55th with a carbon copy of young Cleary’s try, receiving an offload from Cleary on the halfway line and passing 4 defenders to score his 3rd converted try of the day. Final score 40-5 to the young Skins side.
The Under-14s also came away with points from their encounter with Ards, winning the contest 31-19. The young side continue to improve with a host of new faces donning the maroon jersey for the first time in recent weeks of the new season. This was a physical battle for the developing side and their continued improvement, particularly around the ruck and in first up tackling, was evident throughout. It’s clear this side has a massive amount of potential if this level of progress continues through the season.
Enniskillen 3xv 39
Skins 3rd XV travelled to DerryYM on Saturday full of optimism on the back of last weeks convincing home win over Letterkenny. Indeed when Ross Duncan bundled over for the opening try after several phases of early pressure, and returning outhalf Keith Hurst slotted a penalty soon after, it looked like last weeks form would continue. However, DerryYM weren’t about to roll over and as skins squandered chances their pack began to apply severe pressure and, only for some last ditch cover tackling from the excellent Richard Henderson, it looked at one point Skins could throw away their lead. It was his replacement flanker Dave Cadden on his first game of the season who added to the score next; when an overlap was squandered by the backs and it looked like an opportunity missed, Dave smuggled the ball from the ruck and dived over from close quarters. The other replacement in the first half was the introduction of débutante Michael O’Connor to the backline where he soon showed his strength and balance to run a good line to collect a well timed pass from centre partner John Gamble, and burst through two would be tacklers to score his first of the season. Half-time score 18-0.
Despite the scoreline it wasn’t the performance Skins had hoped for, often spreading the ball wide too early and not dominating upfront, although hooker Andy McCrea and lock Frankie Fee did disrupt and steal ball at the set piece all day. It took some graft to gain dominance and frequent knock-ons along with a concession of penalties didn’t help Skins. However, with Gordie Gregg leading the attack with his illusive breaks the backline soon found the space for young John McLaughry to side step not one, but two defenders, finishing excellently in the corner. Lock Stephen Tummon who grafted tirelessly all day in both defence and attack deserved to finish from close quarters after some good ball carrying from props Adi Breen and Jamie McKane. Skins did come under a spell of intense pressure and, after several tap penalties, their defensive line was finally broken for a well deserved DerryYM try. It was good to see Enniskillen finish the stronger side with Gareth Donaldson from full-back counter attacking superbly, supported well by wings James Cunningham and Ryan Irwin. Skins managed to score their 6th, and the final try of the day, through John Gamble, when live-wire scrum half Chris Fox quickly recycled to put him in the corner. Replacement kicker Michael O’Connor added three difficult conversions leaving the final score 39-5 to Enniskillen.
14 tries in two weeks from a youthful squad is an encouraging precedent before facing an undefeated Omagh away next Friday night. A further congratulations to Skins 2nd XV Captain Richie Willis as his team also secured a bonus point win at home to Ballinahinch on Saturday to mark the big man’s birthday.