Saturday 15th November 2014 - With a week off from league and cup action some of the Enniskillen rugby lads relished a chance to stretch the legs in a home friendly featuring a Skins’ select side taking the field against Virginia RFC, and a great opportunity for some fresh faces to show what they can do.
It was an arm wrestle from the start and both back lines saw little of the ball in the early stages as the two forward packs traded blows, a trademark crunching defensive effort from Michael Cadden, with the help of Frankie Fee and Nathan Aiken, kept the Virginia forwards well contained, as did newcomer Stephen Roberts before being forced off with injury.
Eric Elliott and Richard Willis both displayed powerful carrying to wear down the Virginia defence, with young lock Elliott also showing capable handling skills in open play.
It was some individual sparks of ability that kept the scoreline in the favour of the home side, a tap and go on the 5-metre line from Michael Cadden following good tight play from the forwards registered first blood for the home side. Then an intercept from Alan Wilkinson in the Enniskillen half against the run of play left Virginia lagging behind as the centre bitterly sprinted the length of the pitch for a try.
Soon after this, cunning scrum half Christopher Fox took matters into his own hands in the Virginia half, executing a pick up from the back of the ruck and going on a streamlined run through the Virginia defence to score under the posts.
The Virginia backs did seek to shift the ball a lot more in the later stages but Skins' defensive line was well marshalled by Alan Wilkinson, and young Conor Hoy showed some tenacious tackling on the wing. The Skins back line then responded in kind with a fine passing display putting Lloyd Harte away down his wing for a try in the corner.
Virginia fought hard to the end and did get points on the board after extended pressure from the forward pack deep in the Enniskillen half, but another try from Michael Cadden following a well timed pass from Stevie Welsh sealed the result. To finish proceedings James Ferguson at outside centre, who hadn’t seen much ball throughout, took his opportunity well and managed another try before the full time whistle.
First XV coach Norman Richmond was clearly pleased at the display from the youth contingent on the day.
"As a coach it was encouraging to see some of the younger players getting a run out. Players like Nathan Aiken, Connor Hoy and Steve Roberts are the next generation of players coming through and showed promising potential for the future. All three young players are now indicating that they can step up to the senior teams.”
Commenting on his two try spectacular Michael Cadden humbly commended the efforts of the team.
“Both tries were amazing, following the second one in particular Wilkie suggested i replace him at 13 in the firsts for the foreseeable future”.
Christopher Fox was equally elated at his own try scoring return to Rugby after a long hiatus.
“Ah it’s great to be back and i’m delighted with picking up a try, it was my mum’s birthday on Friday and she said to me “Christopher you can keep the flowers, that was the best present you could have gave me!””.
It was an entertaining display at Mullaghmeen from some talented players in the friendly fixture but this weekend it’s back to business in what should be a great Saturday at the club as the First XV host Holywood RFC at home in the league and the Second XV also play at home to Belfast Harlequins 3XV, followed by Ireland Vs Australia shown in the club house.