On Saturday past however we saw a much more experienced 1st XV side, likely to resemble what we will see in the league fixtures this season, play host to the visiting Dromore. The physicality from the home side was a step above what we witnessed the previous week, particularly in defence which was to prove the major difference in the contest. Jack Harte, Davy Buchanan and Michael Cadden were their usual imposing selves around the breakdown and, despite spending the majority of the game without the ball, the home side maintained their own ball very effectively when in possession and controlled the ruck area well. Mark O’Shea, returning to the side after a successful stint at Dungannon, had a solid game at full back and looked threatening throughout, as did James Ferguson who, along with Ashley Finlay on the opposite wing, must comprise the most imposing back three Enniskillen have had in a decade.
The first half was mainly a close quarters battle from the two teams but there were glimpses of good backline play and some well worked interplay between the forwards and backs. Adam Lendrum at out half again kicked well to touch, gaining valuable territory, but the Dromore line out were, to their credit, very sharp throughout and disrupted a lot of Enniskillen ball.
The Skins scrum however was a dominant area for the home side with the front row of Gavin Warrington, Ryan Cathcart and Steven Fox putting the opposition under severe pressure before an arguably fortuitous injury amongst the visitors forced the scrums uncontested in the first half.
It was a bit of, not uncommon, individual brilliance from Ashley Finlay that led to the first score with a break down the wing on halfway and quite simply outpacing his opposition with a swerving run towards the touch line to score in the corner. Skins managed another score before the end of the first half by setting up a maul near the 5 metre line off a well taken line out by Richard Grey, then finding hard carrying number eight John Courtney at the back of the maul who crossed the line with ease.
The second half asked a lot from the home side as Dromore came out ravenous in search of points.
Two seemingly never ending periods of defence on their own line were required from the home side during the half and it was a spectacle of incredible determination for a friendly so early in the season. Eventually Dromore did cross the line from a well worked line out and maul on the Enniskillen 5-metre line; but Enniskillen had the final say in the contest when Captain Alan Wilkinson snatched an intercept deep in his own half and ran the pitch to leave the final score 17-5 to the home side, a great result against a solid Qualifying One side.
The 1st XV head to Clogher Valley this weekend to take part in their 25th anniversary tournament, followed by one more pre season friendly before the league kicks off with an away fixture to Coleraine on 29th August.