||12 - 0
The Under-16 bout was to be a match up of two teams in form with Skins top of their league and Newry placed 2nd in the league above, but the lads from Enniskillen weren’t to be fazed by these standings.
A cautious start for both teams led to even exchanges of play and, with both teams ignoring the muddy, cold conditions and trying to play expansive rugby, it was clear there wasn’t much between them. Skins were the first to show that they weren’t afraid to get on the deck to secure ball and, after two minutes when O’Hare got to his feet with his left half perfectly mud cladden and his right half like an advert for a leading washing powder, parent spectators were starting to fear not for the outcome of the match but for their washing machines.
The team were intent on carrying on from where they left off last week with a dominant pack performance in both set piece and in loose play yet again led by Clarke, Patton, McKee, Leonard (back from injury), McKervey and the seemingly rejuvenated Boylan. With these men doing the hard work going forward and Timoney as usual in quiet fashion making sure of the tackle and securing turnover ball, territory was definitely in Skins favour. However, for a long period of time they couldn’t break down the Newry defence, who tackled and counter rucked constantly to deny players maybe 3 or 4 times, before the breakthrough eventually came when Boylans determination took him over the visitors line. This score went unconverted leaving a half time lead 5-0. The backs did their part as well in this half showing that they could attack both in close, with Hill and O’Hare trying to exploit gaps, as well as out wide with the back three of McGowan, Presley and Magee showing safe hands and pace on a difficult surface. Not to be forgotten David Quill who, like Timoney in the pack, goes about his defensive duties quietly and effectively and acts as provider of swift ball to the men out wide.
The second half started much the same, and a promise made to the frozen subs to get them all on at half time had to be delayed due to the competitive nature of this match, with only Monaghan changing things at inside centre and Gilleece coming on in the front row. Both these players provided the impact required when they came on with initial hard yards made from ball carrying opportunities. With the lineouts going well Skins did have an impressive maul moving nearly 30 yards into the Newry half on one occasion, and with Brown moving quick ball Skins were to be denied another scoring chance. With the last of the replacements getting on, all three of them McGrail, Roberts and Anderson got stuck in with their team mates and had opportunites to run and defend in this close game. Constant pressure and territory eventually again led to a Skins try by Patton just before being replaced, this time it was converted by Monaghan leaving the final score 12-0.
It's difficult to be critical of the last two team performances but concentration and application at times does slip allowing the opposition to get back into games and this must be worked on by some individuals. There is still room for improvement in individuals within the squad and with players now fully aware that places are at stake I think the best performances are yet to come.
Squad: Leonard, Patton, McKervey, McKee, Skuce, Timoney, Boylan, Clarke, Brown, Hill, McGowan, O’Hare, Quill, Presley, Magee, Gilleece, McGrail, Monaghan, Anderson & Roberts