||10 - 0
Enniskillen Ladies 10
Cavan Ladies 0
Enniskillen Ladies met Cavan last Sunday in what was sure to be a hotly contested battle on a bright, crisp afternoon at Mullaghmeen. This was a pivotal match, with both teams remaining undefeated in each of their previous live matches up to this point.
What was to prove a very physical game started as such, with a Skins kick off from Noreen Nethercott resulting in the first scrum of the game within the opening 2 minutes. Slow to switch on, Skins suffered at the hands of some powerful Cavan line breaks, especially from members of the Cavan pack, until number eight Leona Connolly put in a literal cracking tackle which resulted in a substitution for Cavan on the 15 minute mark. Intensity increased from then, although Skins still experienced some desperate battles at ruck time. Their defence was much improved from their previous match-day form against Carrick, with some excellent arrangement and leadership in the back line from seasoned centre Aoibhinn Kelly, and eager off the line bursts from winger Leanne Hall. After a turnover ball from Hall, a kick and chase from Nethercott saw Skins gain vital yards, remaining deep in Cavan territory for most of the remainder of the half. Then well into the first half, with the luxury of a number of substitutes on the sideline, a blood substitution was made after excellent defensive work from Hall forced her to leave the pitch, with Alanna McCaffrey relieving her. A penalty on the left wing was worked through the hands with calm precision across the pitch to right-wing Eimear Corrigan who touched down over the line to leave Skins 5-0 up at the half-time whistle.
Cavan had everything to play for, and kicked off with the help of a stiff wind that had risen for the start of the second half. Skins were forced to summon an excellent defensive performance early on as the majority of the action was stubbornly pinned within the skins half in the first 20mins. Proving her ability at outside centre Nikki McSherry made a speedy break through the Cavan defence and raced up the right wing, only for an unfortunate knock on resulting in a Cavan scrum. Bolstered by the break, however, Skins turned the ensuing scrum over and heavy hits and aggressive rucking around the midfield mark culminated in the breakdown of a Cavan maul and eager seizing of the ball by Leona Connolly before a Skins penalty was awarded.
With 20 mins to go captain Teague, who had been delivering heavy hits all day, again broke through a tiring Cavan defence, gaining ground and setting up for a fine display of rugby, linking in with her back line who ran some excellent dummy lines before delivering the ball to full-back Louise Thompson for a very well deserved try, leaving the score 10-0.
Still with 10 minutes to the final whistle Cavan never let up, returning once again within the skins 22, until an interception from Thompson and some great bursts from front row Collette McMorrow, and the endlessly hardworking Ashleen Maguire allowed a few moments breathing space. Thompson put in one of the performances of the day with ball clearances and some crunching tackles throughout the second half. In a nail-biting final minute Cavan doggedly attacked the skins defence within their 22 before being driven into touch by McSherry. With the final penalty of the match awarded to Cavan right in front of the posts and yards from the touch line, again excellent defence saw the early shut down of the Cavan number eight, who had been wreaking havoc all day.
Despite injuries and a number of players playing out of position, Skins all showed determination and real grit in maintaining an excellent defence for large portions of the game, against an equally hungry and physical Cavan side. The return of old hands Helen Carleton, Clare Brogan and Eimear Corrigan, who had been absent from the past number of matches, was a great addition on the day. The girls will be delighted to continue their campaign unbeaten as they go forward to face Malone, away in Belfast this coming Sunday. As always, all are welcomed along to training, which is taking place this week on Tuesday at 7pm and Thursday at 8pm.