||13 - 10
Virginia Under-16s 13
Enniskillen Under-16s 10
Enniskillen U16’s went to Virginia on Saturday, knowing this was a meeting of the only two unbeaten teams in the League this season. Playing on an extremely wide new pitch this was surely to be to the Skins advantage as they had been playing super expansive rugby all season. The early part of the game saw neither side get the upper hand with both sides trading early penalties to leave it 3-3 after 15 minutes. A lengthy delay due to an injury to a Virginia player saw Skins, who hadn’t as yet totally settled and were playing in 3rd gear, go to sleep and within five minutes of the restart let their opponents run in two easy unconverted tries to leave the score 13-3. This was to be the awakening of the normally aggressive and dominant Skins team and the instruction was to get back on the scoreboard before the close of the half. For the following period the intensity was improved from Enniskillen and, when nearly at the Virginia try line, if it were not for the referee blowing for half time seemingly early then the score line may have been different going into half time.
Despite a below par performance so far Skins were definitely still well in the match. A couple of positional changes were made in areas found to be under pressure and thoughts of a comeback were still on the cards. However, some disappointing areas in the 1st half continued to disappoint in the 2nd. Efforts were being made to go forward but too many times Skins were countered at the breakdown and lost the ball to a strong Virginia back row who immediately put them under repeated pressure.
The team defensively, with the exception of the two tries earlier, were their usual selves, in particular in the midfield where time and time again, but for the tackling and double tackling, things may well have been worse. With some of the forwards going back to old pre season habits of not supporting up on the back foot in the areas out wide it left Enniskillen under pressure all too often. Fifteen minutes from the end it looked like Skins were going to steal the result when, rightly so, a penalty try was converted leaving the score 13-10. Skins desire suddenly came to life and, with a tired Virginia now under pressure, a decision to reduce Skins to 14 players was questionable, but still with only 14 men they continued to try and make amends but were denied again when the referee seemingly lost almost 7 minutes off his watch and blew for full time.
By Skins’ own admission afterwards they had hugely underperformed against a Virginia side who only 6 months ago had ran in an embarrassing number of tries against this same group of boys, and it may be that this previous encounter played on the minds of the young group who will undoubtedly learn from this experience.
Under-16 coach George Richmond was disappointed at the lack of application in the fixture but was positive about how far the side have come and the potential for future success.
“We as coaches have tried so hard to instil confidence and belief in this team and to encourage them to manage a style of rugby that so far has worked and produced results, but also entertained the many spectators each Saturday, but sadly this was absent on Saturday. There was no momentum at the breakdown, no desire to defend as a team and and frustratingly that no one was able to apply simple instruction from the side line and correct the relatively minor things that went wrong and denied what should have been a truly deserving win. Heads up and back at it, as long as we have learnt the lessons of Saturday then we have come away with something. We have been so proud of everything the boys have achieved and the commitment shown since early July so Saturday is now history and we move on.”