Enniskillen 1st XV 34 Grosvenor 1st XV 0
Despite fears the fixture wouldn’t go ahead due to some arctic conditions, the Mullaghmeen pitches held up well over the weekend and Enniskillen 1st XV hosted a league fixture against Grosvenor RFC at home on Saturday morning. Having registered a cup victory at home over Grosvenor earlier in the season, and taking the away leg of the league fixtures, Enniskillen were undoubtedly pursuing a win and perhaps a bonus point victory to keep their league aspirations alive.
The presence of some complacency was a possible concern for coach Norman Richmond but Skins were determined from the start and the forward pack looked keen to dominate the encounter. The line out continued to function flawlessly and gave Skins the lion’s share of possession throughout, while the scrum contest also looked to be in Enniskillen’s favour and their dominance in this area continued to grow during the game.
Grosvenor carried ball well in the early stages and their number eight battered the Enniskillen line well but the Skins defensive organisation was excellent and the visitors struggled to find any gaps to exploit. Again as in previous weeks the home side gave away a few too many penalties when perhaps too adamant to turnover ball at the breakdown, and continued to gift Grosvenor opportunities. The visitors failed to capitalise on any of these chances however as their set piece was constantly disrupted, some good line out defence from Enniskillen spoiling many an opportunity.
After absorbing this early pressure it didn’t take Skins long to break the stalemate as Grosvenor’s defence started to present holes for the Enniskillen attack. The first of the home side tries came from a typically destructive Ashley Finlay counter attack as he burst down the wing and sent a chip over the top, only to recover the ball and cross the line following a fumble from the Grosvenor fullback. The next try came shortly afterwards following some good forward carrying on the half way line as rangy second row Kaine Holden found a gap just outside the Grosvenor 22 metre line and weaved through defenders to cross the line for the second try. With the floodgates seemingly open it wasn’t long before Skins were back knocking on the door once again. With a scrum awarded on the Grosvenor 5 metre line Enniskillen focused their efforts and the dominant Skins front row of Warrington, Cathcart and Fox drove the opposition pack relentlessly back towards their own line; Number 8 Ricky Lee carried from the back and was just kept out by the scrambling Grosvenor defence but a quick thinking Nick Finlay at scrum half picked and touched the ball down with an excellent contorted dive over the line, converted by Lendrum to leave the score 19-0 at the half.
The second half momentum remained with the home side early on with Grosvenor under severe pressure. As Grosvenor received a kick just inside their own 22 metre line the always tenacious Jack Harte, making an appearance at centre on the day, charged down the attempted clearance and Mark O’Shea was on hand to take the favourable bounce of the ball and cross the line for an early confirmation of the bonus point, converted by Lendrum. Immediately afterwards winger O’Shea was to add to his tally with an excellent counter down the wing from the restart and a beautifully reclaimed up and under to extend the lead.
Grosvenor seemed keen to retain their pride at this stage and ended up putting in a much stronger performance in the later stages of the second half. Perhaps influenced by the ease with which some of their earlier tries had come, Enniskillen began to lose their structure in attack and they could have been much more effective in extending their lead in the second half, some handling errors and penalties cancelled out opportunities and this could have caused problems for the home side had the set piece not been so dominant on the day. The defence however rarely missed a beat and Buchanan was typically prominent in holding up attackers while Richie Johnston at flanker had another industrious tackle count.
Enniskillen readdressed their tactics towards the end and finished the game well with a kick to touch from Lendrum and a well worked catch and drive from the line out giving Michael Cadden the last score of the game from the back of the maul, ending the fixture 34-0 to the home side. This bonus point win puts Enniskillen in decent standing at third place in the league table heading into their Towns Cup fixture away to Lurgan this weekend.
Enniskillen Ladies Rugby 1st XV: 0 Queens Ladies Rugby 1st XV: 33
On Sunday Enniskillen Ladies hosted Queens Ladies in the second round of the Rosie Stewart Ulster Cup in good playing conditions at Mullaghmeen.
Enniskillen set down a good platform from the beginning with scrums & line outs working well, allowing the team to put good phases together & make ground on the Queens defence. Mid way through the first half, against the run of play, Queens scored an opportunistic try which may have took the early momentum away from Enniskillen. From there it was nip & tuck between the two sides. Just before the end of the first half Enniskillen were denied a try when Erika Porter was stopped just short of the line.
The teams turned around for the 2nd half with Enniskillen playing into the breeze. Queens’ fitness & level of experience from Division 1 rugby stood them in good stead as they started to take control. The Mullaghmeen girls were trying to attack at every opportunity, however a lapse in concentration in the Skins defence saw Queens punish the home side with 3 tries in quick succession.
Enniskillen had a tremendous team effort throughout and fought to the end against high quality opposition. With key personnel missing through sickness, the performance & determination shown by new players through to the final whistle bodes well for the future of Ladies rugby at Enniskillen.
The next ladies fixture is away to Omagh on 31st January, as the team continue on their quest for league glory. Training continues Tuesday & Thursday, all new players are always welcome. Checkout the Facebook page Enniskillen Ladies Rugby for more details.