|Clogher Valley 1st XV
||3 - 15
||Enniskillen 1st XV
Skins Mark their Return to Division 1 with Derby Victory
Enniskillen marked their return to Qualifying 1, now deemed Ulster Rugby Championship 1, in stunning fashion on Saturday past with a derby victory over local rivals Clogher Valley who fielded a new look side. It was a result that will turn many heads given Clogher’s impressive history in the league and Enniskillen’s so recent arrival into it’s ranks.
The game commenced at a frantic pace, as seems an essential feature when these two teams meet. Philip Holme cleared the ball from the Valley 22’ to Skins’ fullback Ashley Finlay who countered impressively to bring play back into the Clogher half. Good pressure from the Enniskillen forwards forced a penalty and out half Adam Lendrum slotted it nicely to put Skins 3-0 up. Clogher responded well by forcing the visitors back into their own half and some work at the breakdown from Enniskillen was deemed illegal and gave Holme an opportunity to level the scoreline, which he duly converted.
Enniskillen had the Lion’s share of possession for the rest of the first half and it took some stern Valley defence to keep the visitors at bay. Eventually the pressure wrought rewards for Enniskillen as McKenna was yellow carded following repeated ruck infringements. Enniskillen should possibly have crossed the line sooner but there were some errors from the side who possibly lacked cohesion at times given the early stage of the season. Eventually off the back of a solid Enniskillen scrum, the ball found Mark O’Shea at 12 who stepped his way around 3 defenders to cross the line for the first try of the game, unconverted by Lendrum to leave the score 8-3. Skins worked their way back into the Clogher half with the back three of Steve Neill, Ashley Finlay and Robert Baloucoune proving very dangerous in the counter attack. Carries from the Skins’ forwards continued to wear down a determined Valley defence and another penalty was awarded to the visitors that drifted just wide of the uprights. A scrum just inside the Clogher half was to lead to another away score before half time as Ricky Lee picked from the base and made decent yards before offloading to a hard running Ashley Finlay, sidewinding his way through some Valley defenders before finding Jamie Johnston in support who touched down under the posts, converted by Lendrum to extend the lead 15-3 at the close of the half.
The second half saw more controlled play from Clogher and they spent a lot more time in the Enniskillen half. This required a much bigger defensive effort from Skins and they worked well together to keep the home side out. Good defensive work from Skins at the set piece made it difficult for Clogher to sustain any long term pressure as Kaine Holden disrupted the opposition line out well and the Skins scrum looked generally to be in the ascendency. A yellow card for Holden after reacting to some clashes in open play gave Valley an opening but the defence remained resolute and some key turnovers from David Buchanan and Jamie Johnston put an end to good periods of Clogher attack. There were missed opportunities for both teams as Clogher turned a crucial scrum on their 5 metre line to relieve the situation while disrupted lineouts near the Skins line kept the scoreline unchanged in the dying minutes. It was Enniskillen who took the victory on the day as the final whistle blew and they will take a lot of heart from this result but will seek to improve many aspects of their game and achieve a more clinical performance going into this weekend’s first home fixture against an always formidable Portadown.