|Enniskillen 1st XV
||34 - 12
||Rainey OB 2nd XV
Enniskillen 1st XV 34
Rainey OB 2nd XV 12
Enniskillen 2nd XV 34
Monaghan 2nd XV 5
Enniskillen 3rd XV 10
Donegal Town 2nd XV 7
It was a great start to the new year for Enniskillen Rugby Club as all 3 senior teams registered home victories on Saturday past in their respective cup campaigns. The 1st XV continued their festive reprisal, following their Lisburn victory the previous week, with a convincing win over Rainey Old Boys 2nd XV in the first round of the Town’s Cup.
Enniskillen started intensely but Rainey’s kicking game was on point and led to good territorial gains to pin Skins back in their own half, eventually leading to an early penalty to take the lead with 3 points. Enniskillen refocused their efforts and looked dangerous in attack with good ground being made by Mark O’Shea’s counter attack from full back and Steve Neill on the wing, but the early phases lacked precision and continued infringements allowed the visitors back in the game. However, once Enniskillen settled into their structure their quality in the back line shone through; coming from a well worked line out and maul just inside the Rainey half, the ball went out the backs to Alan Wilkinson who put Matthew Maguire through a narrow gap, the agile centre then left the fullback hopelessly misdirected with a sidestep to coast through under the posts for the first try, converted by Lendrum to leave Skins 7-3 up.
Rainey continued to patiently apply pressure with some good kicks to touch, continuing to play Rugby in the Skins half; then a penalty against the over eager Skins defence for offside handed another 3 points to the visitors. The counter attack from Enniskillen following the penalty was aggressive with big forward carries coming from Johnston and Warrington to make it inside the Rainey 22 metre line, but some handling errors nullified the attack and a successful 3 point penalty from Lendrum was the only reward from that period of pressure, the score now 10-6. A blow for Skins came then from the next phase with an early reshuffle required as Jamie Johnston was forced from the field through injury.
The next try came after a destructive Skins maul put them deep into the Rainey half; a line out shortly afterwards went straight out the backline where once again Mattie Maguire broke through and offloaded to Steve Neill who evaded the last defender to score in the corner, leaving the score 15-6. Rainey continued to attack the Enniskillen line approaching the end of the half and their back line looked fairly dangerous at times but the Skins defence remained solid. However, some discipline around the ruck was again poor from Enniskillen as they gifted Rainey another 3 point opportunity well inside their own half, converted competently by the accurate boot of the Rainey centre to leave the score 15-9 at the end of the half.
Enniskillen started the second half with some excellent attacking phases through both the backs and forwards, shifting the ball well and utilising the space effectively. A knock on close to the Rainey try line gave the visitors some relief but the pressure from Enniskillen on the resultant scrum had Rainey scuttling back over their own line; then after a hit from Cathcart on the Rainey 8 forced a knock on, Steven Fox capitalised with a pick up and dive over the try line for another score, converted by Lendrum to leave the score 22-9.
Rainey were not to be silenced by the third try and again made their way into the Enniskillen half, this time a high tackle giving Rainey another 3 point opportunity, narrowing the score to 22-12. Another reshuffle was forced as Steven Fox had to leave the field with a head injury but this didn’t seem to take the wind out of the now rampant Skins sails as another try came right off the back of the next scrum. The Enniskillen pack made good ground in the scrum against Rainey and Nick Finlay at scrum half released the back line where Mark O’Shea and Alan Wilkinson shrugged off defenders before offloading to Zach Charlton to score in the corner, converted impressively from far out by Lendrum for a 29-12 lead.
For the next 20 minutes Rainey, to their credit, continued to throw the ball around courageously in their efforts to stay in the game, and perhaps come away with a try which had so far eluded them. Rainey struggled to convert their opportunities to points however as the defence from Enniskillen was well organised throughout and confident to absorb pressure deep in their own half, some destructive scrummaging turning over ball at one stage to defuse the Rainey attack.
After weathering the Rainey attack for quite a while Enniskillen then put the scoreline out of reach with some excellent play out wide. Alex Gormley drew in defenders to make the gap out wide for Steve Neill to sprint down the right wing and pop inside to James Ferguson on an excellent support line to score in the corner, unconverted to leave the score 34-12.
The final 20 minutes were a tight battle, Rainey seeking a consolation try and Enniskillen keen to stop anyone crossing their line on the day. Mattie Maguire made another dynamic break and almost upped his tally but for some determined Rainey cover tackling. For the last 10 minutes Rainey, through a series of territory gifting penalties, battered the Enniskillen try line and a tenacious defensive effort was required of the home side to keep them at bay, and eventually after sustained pressure Buchanan ripped the ball from the Rainey forwards and handed it to Ferguson who sent it sailing over the Mullaghmeen shrubbery to end the contest 34-12 and send the 1st XV into the next round of the Towns Cup.