|ENNISKILLEN 1st xv
||19 - 20
Enniskillen First XV will feel as if it was an opportunity missed at the weekend after a painfully close 20-19 league defeat at home to Coleraine RFC.
It was a tale of two halves on the day as a large Coleraine side seemed to effectively suck in the Enniskillen defence on a number of occasions in the first half allowing them to run in multiple scores out wide, leaving a valiant Enniskillen side with too much work to do to come back in the second half, despite a much more effective defensive effort in the latter part of the game from the home side.
The game began in the best way imaginable for Enniskillen when full back Ashley Finlay caught the ball calmly in his own half and proceeded to weave his way through what must have been three separate waves of Coleraine defenders before scoring under the posts for a spectacular individual try.
It was only minutes later that Coleraine responded after a brief period of play in the Enniskillen half, with rapid passing out to the right wing leaving the Enniskillen defence for dead and a simple scoring opportunity for the visitors.
Enniskillen came back well, playing some exciting rugby within the Coleraine 22 metre line and the opposition defence had to work hard to repel some excellent interplay between the Skins' forwards and backs. Prop Steven Fox showed great awareness with ball in hand to put winger Chris Dickie over the line only for the ref to controversially declare it to be held up.
Good clearance from the Coleraine out half gained the visitors some well needed territory, and after further exploiting the gaps out wide in the Enniskillen defence the Coleraine forwards then mauled it over the line for their second score. (unconverted)
Enniskillen continued to play well in the Coleraine half with Nick Finlay at out half providing great front foot ball for the back line and a break down the wing from Jonny Foster gaining excellent ground.
The forwards continued to wear down the opposition well through Jamie Johnston and Michael Cadden but some handling errors and turnovers gave Coleraine some opportunities to retaliate. With a scrum in the Enniskillen half the visitors managed another score out wide from the first phase with a well executed long pass from the Coleraine out half.
The home supporters were then surely worried for the final score prospects when, despite powerful defensive pressure from the front row of Steven Fox, Ryan Cathcart and Richard Beatty, missed tackles allowed Coleraine to break the line in the middle of the park before passing it out wide for the Coleraine backs to score once again in the right hand corner.
However, Enniskillen came out fighting in the second half looking much more tenacious, David Buchanan and Ricky Lee were a major physical presence in the pack while open side Jack Harte was a constant menace at the ruck area. The back line also seemed to have found their form as a break from newcomer Nathan Richmond was followed by a nicely weighted pass from Nick Finlay to winger Chris Dickie who finished his try in the corner.
All the attacking play came from Enniskillen throughout the second half and they were unlucky to not capitalise on some extended periods of pressure, credit to Coleraine who were very disruptive and forced handling errors and stole possession whenever possible to shut down the Skins’ attack, no doubt attributing to the two Coleraine yellow cards received in the second half.
Enniskillen continued to attack well and looked very composed in their efforts to overturn the lead in the final 20 minutes, additionally their style of play never wavered and they continued to play expansive rugby to the whistle. This paid off with a great display of handling from the back line for the final score; started by Paddy McCleery at the left hand touch line the ball passed through the hands of four Skins’ backs before being finished by Ashley Finlay in the corner, unfortunately to be the last act before the final whistle this left Enniskillen still a point adrift following the Nick Finlay conversion.
Enniskillen will be disappointed with the home defeat but can take heart from the big second half performance and the display of an ability to come back from an intimidating lead, which previous Skins' sides have lacked.
The First XV now face Dromore in Round 2 of the Junior Cup this Saturday 18th, Kick Off at 2.30pm.