|Ballymoney 1st XV
||19 - 23
||Enniskillen 1st XV
Enniskillen 1XV took a well-deserved 4 points on Saturday, in what was a tough away trip to a well drilled Ballymoney Side.
Skins pack showed their intent from the outset putting pressure on Ballymoney from the restart and after several phases in the opposition half were rewarded for their efforts with a penalty, which Adam Lendrum happily converted.
The next ten minutes was a battle for dominance, in a game where both sides wanted to control the tempo. It was beginning to look like the Enniskillen men were winning that battle with the scrum dominating the opposition. NO. 8 Ricky Lee was making some very strong carries tying in the opposition back row and allowing Lendrum to pin Ballymoney back with some superb tactical kicking.
However the men in blue had other ideas and some poor first up tackling allowed the fullback to slip through the first line of defence only to be fortunately tackled by his opposite number Michael Law. As the Enniskillen defence scrambled back Ballymoney saw the space out wide and quickly moved the ball to score an unconverted try out wide. 3-5
Enniskillen reacted as they should and as soon as they could regain possession a strong carry from Jamie Johnston brought play up to the 22. Good ball retention and patience through the phases led to play moving to the 5metre line. A well timed pass from scrum half Ricky Connor found Alan Wilkinson running a good line to break the defence and score under the posts leaving the conversion a formality for Lendrum. 10-5
Another period of forward combat in the Ballymoney half again went in Skins’ favour, with a penalty from Lendrum just before the half leaving the score 13-5 at the break.
The second half couldn’t have started worse for Enniskillen as some indiscipline allowed Ballymoney to kick to the corner and after several attempts they finally managed to score from the resulting maul. 13-12
Again the reaction from the Enniskillen men was to be commended as they quickly went about righting the wrong. Superb tackling notably from Michael Cadden, Kaine Holden and Gavin Warrington thwarted any attempt from Ballymoney to build again. As Enniskillen dominated the territory outhalf Lendrum seized his opportunity to slip through a gap in the defence and Support from Wilkinson led to a 2 on 1 with the fullback, a sure try, only prevented by the Ballymoney 7 tackling Wilkinson without the ball – a clear case for a penalty try to everyone in the ground except the referee, who deemed a yellow card sufficient. Lendrum swiftly added the 3 points form the resulting penalty. 16-12.
Play moved back and forward with the game largely being played between the 22’s. However Enniskillen were again instruments of their own destruction as the next points went to Ballymoney. Some really poor tackling in the centre allowed the Ballymoney 12 to run from the 10 metre line to score a converted try. 16-19
Thankfully Enniskillen had more than a losing bonus point on their mind. Some unrivalled work at the breakdown by David Buchannon saw Enniskillen rewarded with a penalty. With the opposition down to 7 forwards Enniskillen went to the corner and after a good maul, the ball found its way to Jamie Johnston who was simply unstoppable from close range. Again Lendrum added the extras to leave the score 23-19. The last 5 minutes of the game were an unbearably tense ordeal for the Enniskillen contingent as accurate kicking from the Ballymoney out-half left them defending a line out on their own 5 metre line. Thankfully after some tenacious defence, uncomfortably deep in the Enniskillen half, the final whistle blew to register a fine victory for the visitors.
Coach Norman Richmond was clearly relieved to get the league campaign back on track with a rare victory over a former Q1 side who don’t often lose on their home patch.
“It was a hard fought win today against Ballymoney and it’s great to get our first points of the league this season. It was nip and tuck throughout but i think our lads showed that bit more desire today and it has put us back on track in the league.
“The front row dominated their Ballymoney counterparts today and David Buchanan was typically troublesome for the opposition with his physicality, while in the backs Adam Lendrum, just out of Portora, controlled the game well and continues to develop his game at out half. Michael Law also had a solid game coming in at full back in Ashley Finlay’s absence.
“We now have Randalstown this Saturday at home and they’re known to cause shock results on their day so we simply have to continue with that level of focus and desire if we want to push forward and contend for league honours."