REPORTS Enniskillen 1s v Carrick 1s and 3s v Omagh 4s

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Carrick 9

Enniskillen 8
Enniskillen 1st XV’s recent league reprisal hit a severe snag last Saturday with a painfully narrow 9-8 defeat away to Carrickfergus RFC, admittedly their toughest league fixture of the season on paper given the Carrick side’s position at top of the league standings.
It was a frustrating day for Enniskillen who will feel hard done by given their dominance at the scrum and their continued ability in defence, but the number of penalties conceded and the relentless disruption at the breakdown from the home side made it all but impossible for Skins to build any momentum.
Skins started strongly and the front row of Warrington, Cathcart and Fox were tormenting the opposition front row, driving them off their own ball constantly, eventually earning the penalty which allowed out half Lendrum to take the three points and put Skins in the lead.
Carrick responded well by working their way back into Enniskillen territory, turning over a lot of Enniskillen possession in open play to disrupt their attack, and eventually the referee awarded Carrick the penalty for an Enniskillen breakdown infringement, effectively levelling the score 3-3. Play continued in the same vein as the referee seemed to favour Carrick’s work in the breakdown contest and another penalty within kicking distance gave Carrick a 6-3 lead.
Enniskillen focused their efforts now and set up camp deep in the Carrick half, missing with a penalty attempt but then inflicting a number of punishing scrums on the Carrick pack and forcing another penalty; refusing attempts at goal Skins continued the scrummaging contest expecting to drive them over the line or possibly get awarded the penalty try. However, the Carrick scrum managed to endure the onslaught and the home side defence held for a time. Soon afterwards the pressure from Enniskillen finally wrought rewards. After sustained carries just inside the Carrick 22 metre line, the ball went across the backline and wide to James Ferguson on the right wing who crossed the line for an excellent finish in the corner, unconverted to put Skins in the lead 8-6 at the end of the half.
Again Enniskillen had the Lion’s share of possession in the second half and Ashley Finlay from full back had some piercing counter attacks, while David Buchanan also made a fantastic break from well inside his own half to bring play up to the opposition 22 metre line, however it was errors and constant penalties which continued to shut down the Skins attack. Penalties inside Enniskillen’s own half were becoming a common occurrence now too and the Carrick kicker, after missing one attempt which bounced off the  left post, soon sent another kick sailing through the uprights to put the home side 9-8 up.
Enniskillen now desperately sought points before the final whistle and Carrick, to their credit, defended well against some enterprising play from the vistors. A few attempts went wanting as an Adam Lendrum penalty to take the lead drifted wide and an attempted drop goal from Nick Finlay in the dying minutes fell short, only to be almost collected out wide by the chasing Enniskillen backs, but to be unfortunately knocked on, and from the resulting Carrick scrum the ball was kicked dead to end the game.
The defence from the home team was solid on the day and they effectively hampered an Enniskillen side who showed with their try in the first half just how dangerous they can be with ball in hand. Skins now look to their huge Town’s Cup Final on Easter Monday where they face an impressive Bangor side at Kingspan Stadium.
Enniskillen 3rd XV 50
Omagh 4th XV 0

Second placed League side Omagh 4th XV travelled to Enniskillen 3rd XV on Saturday intent on a win to take the top league spot with only a few games left. However, a bright start from a young Skins side put a perhaps complacent Omagh on the back foot as winger James Cunningham established first blood and crossed the line excellently after some slick passing from the backs. Skins kept up the pressure through the pack, dominating the scrum and breakdown area, with debutant hooker Matthew McCabe turning ball over several times on the Omagh put in. Scrum-half Paddy McCleery, the closest equivalent skins have to Leicester’s goal machine Jamie Vardy given his try count, added the first of his two tries next with a sniping run. Another youngster in his first season going from strength to strength is centre John McLaughry who gracefully stepped three would be tacklers before racing under the posts from the 22 metre line. Not to be outdone, returning student and fellow centre Jordan Hylton took a more direct route using speed and power to get over in the corner from twenty metres out. Possibly the most individual and skillful of the tries on the day came from fullback Keelin Kelly, gathering a clearing kick in his own half he countered impressively by chip kicking and beating two defenders to gather the bounce in his stride and race under the posts from 30 metres out. Keith Hurt and Kelly added 3 conversions to give a healthy and unexpected 36-0 half time lead to Enniskillen. Unfortunately a little complacency perhaps allowed a newly energised Omagh team to start the second half strongly, pressuring the skins line. Only for a knock on over the line and a dive on a loose ball in the corner just short of the line, Omagh could have staged a reprisal. Thankfully a good turnover from another debutant backrow man, the robust Lewis Millar, helped relieve the pressure and allow his backs to clear their lines. The remainder of the contest was played in the Omagh half with Cunningham showing pace to score his second and finally the forwards getting in on the act with Dave Cadden showing a dummy pass to the ever supporting Steven Tummon and stepping inside the defender to score out wide, Hurst added the conversions. The third senior debutant on the day, U18 hooker Kieran Fee must be acknowledged for his bravery and work rate around the park for a solid first outing. At 50-0 it was decided to blow the game up early to put an end to an all-round excellent team performance. Promising prospects lie ahead for the freshers in the club if they can show commitment and consistency over the remaining 3 games, including away to Donegal this Saturday and a home derby with league leaders Clogher Valley over Easter. All support for the young players is welcomed as they continue to present a bright future for the club.

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