|Dromore 1st XV
||16 - 14
||Enniskillen 1st XV
Dromore 1st XV 16
Enniskillen 1st XV 14
Enniskillen 1st XV suffered their first league defeat last weekend in an excruciatingly narrow 16-14 encounter away to Dromore RFC. As the score suggests it was a hard fought fixture and highly physical contest throughout, but Enniskillen will undoubtedly feel they could have done more on the day as they failed to exploit their high level of possession and their destructive back line who never really got to full flight.
Both forward packs clashed in some physical early encounters as the hefty home side looked adamant to show they wouldn’t be bullied on home turf. The Dromore pack carried well early on and Enniskillen did well to restrain them. Attempts to steal ball at the ruck from Skins were penalised however and had them pinned back in their own half to endure a sustained period of pressure; a scrum near the Skins 5 metre line preceded a carry from the Dromore number eight who snuck through a gap and crossed the line, converted by their scrum half to take a 7-0 lead.
Skins responded well and sought to build a platform to get on the scoreboard, and they certainly had the Lion’s share of possession throughout as the line out functioned extremely well through Holden and Carleton, aptly feeding the Enniskillen maul which made substantial yards in attack; the Scrum too was a dominant area for the Enniskillen pack. Despite this, however, Enniskillen failed to capitalise on time spent deep in Dromore territory in the first half and sustained pressure nearing the try line always seemed to end in a turnover or handling error to let the home side off the hook.
Despite another early three point penalty, the second half saw at times more clinical attack from Enniskillen and the home side began to infringe around the breakdown to slow down the opposition attack, leading to a Dromore yellow card. An extremely well worked try came from the line out shortly afterwards, following a penalty and Lendrum kick to touch, as Cathcart hit Carleton in the line out who popped down to a rampant Jamie Johnston running from just inside the 22 metre line to score under the posts, converted by Lendrum to leave the score 10-7.
Enniskillen spent most of the next 20 in attack and the back line looked potentially deadly at times through O’Shea, Baloucoune and Finlay but too rarely made it outside the rushing Dromore defensive line. The pack continued to apply pressure near the Dromore line with a number of mauls looking sure to creep in for a try but were well dealt with by Dromore, often illegally so as signalled by yet another yellow card in the latter part of the second half. Another turnover from the home side defused this period of pressure once again and they made their way back down into the Enniskillen half.
The defence from Skins was solid as ever now in the face of the Dromore attack but another penalty at the ruck gave the home side a further three points from the boot to go 13-7 up, the penalty count beginning to form a tough task for the Enniskillen men.
Skins were determined from the restart and worked their way back into the Dromore half with a supremely dominant scrummaging performance racking up penalties that had the home side quickly retreating. After repeated infringements from Dromore on their own 5 metre line culminating in the collapse of a prominent Enniskillen maul, the referee awarded Skins a penalty try, with a Lendrum conversion putting them in the lead 14-13 for the first time in the game with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
A fumble at the restart that allowed Dromore to reclaim possession was not an ideal start to this period and Skins began to defend with vigour to see the game off. Unfortunately the tenacity of the defence was their own undoing as an alleged high tackle handed Dromore a penalty attempt to take the lead which their kicker duly converted. Skins remained composed and attempted a comeback in the dying minutes but it came to nothing and the score finished 16-14 to the home side.
Enniskillen still come away with a losing bonus point from the fixture, and defeat to an admittedly difficult side to beat on their home patch will not take the sheen off a stellar start to the season. The challenge now facing Skins is to regroup and return to form for the weekend as they welcome imposing opposition in the form of Belfast side Instonians; victory here would lay a marker down to say the least but the current goal is undoubtedly to improve the team performance and resume playing the expansive brand of rugby the side are capable of.