|Enniskillen 1st XV
||29 - 21
ENNISKILLEN 1st XV made a winning start to pre-season with an excellent 29 -21 win over Ballymoney.
Ballymoney ply their trade in Qualifying One, so this was a good win and early yard stick for the Skins with respect to their pre-season and preparations before the competitive action starts.
This was an evenly matched encounter from start to finish with the win sealed late on when Alex Gormley crossed following some excellent play and Zach Charlton converted to leave the final score 29-21.
Skins head coach Norman Richmond was delighted with the performance but was realistic enough to know more is also required especially with all conquering Clogher Valley up next.
“With friendlies it’s always hard to judge where you are as a team, we wanted more demanding warm up games this year and Ballymoney certainly didn’t let us down,” revealed Norman who added.
“I’m happy with our first game and the performance of the players but there are still areas we need to improve on in the coming weeks in preparation for the league. The real test will come on Friday night against Clogher Valley and with four players missing it’ll be a real test to the depth of the squad.”
Skins were in the ascendancy from the start applying all the pressure, the lineout functioned well with a composed effort from jumpers Kaine Holden and Cathal Mcgarry. The front row of Steven Fox, Stephen Welsh and Gareth Beatty dominated the scrummaging encounters and provided plenty of possession throughout.
Aggressive mauling from Skins kept them firmly inside the Ballymoney half, and after pressure from Alan Wilkinson led to a fumble, David Taylor claimed the loose ball and the pack showed their skill set as clinical hands through Steven Fox led to Kaine Holden strolling in for a try.
This score seemed to invigorate Ballymoney who upped their physicality in the latter stages of the first half. Perhaps initially too eager, indiscipline at the breakdown from the visitors led to a nicely slotted penalty from Daniel Allister, whose tactical kicking was also clinical throughout. Skins still looked to be in danger of getting dragged into a dogfight as an onslaught of pick and gos on Enniskillen’s line resulted in a try for Ballymoney. Shortly after this a missed tackle allowed the Ballymoney centre to coast through for an impressive individual try to put them in the lead for the first time in the game.
Thankfully Skins refocused their efforts showing good composure after a difficult period, an area which let them down last season when performances often waned in the latter stages of the game. With Richie Beatty fresh on the field at prop Ballymoney were subject to some destructive scrummaging, eventually driving over the line for David Taylor to put Skins ahead once again.
Skins continued to use the scrum to their advantage. A blindside pick off the back of the scrum from Taylor to scrum half Kyle Johnston who put Ashley Finlay in for an excellent finish in the corner.
Some handling errors denied Skins the chance to extend the lead further and Ballymoney once again staged a resurgence, and despite aggressive defence and repeated clearance from Finlay they managed to cross the line with another bout of close quarter carries.
To the relief of the support Alex Gormley ripped the ball off an opposing player deep in the Skins half and ran the pitch for an excellent individual try, converted by Zach Charlton to leave the final score at 29-21 to Enniskillen.
Enniskillen now face Clogher Valley in a highly anticipated local derby this Friday at Mullaghmeen, kicking off at 7.30pm. A BBQ will be held with music afterwards from “The Logues” in an event held in association with Cancer Connect NI.