|Enniskillen 1st XV
||57 - 3
||Holywood 1st XV
Enniskillen First XV continued their good form at the weekend with a resounding victory over league newcomers Holywood at home in what was to be a one sided affair in favour of the home side.
The physicality of the Skins’ side looked to be a cut above from the outset with a solid take at the restart from David Buchanan leading to an unstoppable run up the midfield, then a follow up run from towering second row partner Danny Maguire leaving the visitors undoubtedly shellshocked. The interplay between Enniskillen’s backs and forwards was equally sublime and this allowed Skins’ ball carriers to utilise some of the space out wide and really force some difficult tackles out of the Holywood backs.
It was Holywood who scored the first points when one of their backs broke through to gain substantial territory against the run of play, only for a fantastic cover tackle from Ashley Finlay to thwart a certain try, but after some attempts to cross the gain line the visitors were forced to come away with a mere 3 points from a penalty at the breakdown.
A knock on deep in the Holywood half left Enniskillen again unable to gain points despite playing all the Rugby, thankfully Skins continued their excellent scrummaging form with prop combo Richard and Gareth Beatty, and hooker Steven Fox taking the Holywood put-in with a devastating drive, and following a couple of close quarter carries Nick Finaly executed a kick over the top and took the ball perfectly on the bounce to score under the posts, and then convert to leave the score 7-3.
An attempted reprisal from Holywood was repelled with solid defence from Enniskillen and a typical big hit from Michael Cadden. With a scrum penalty and ball in hand yet again the Skins forwards carried relentlessly and effectively drew in the opposition defence, leaving plenty of space out wide for a nice display of handling in the back line to put Nathan Richmond across the line for the second score.
Enniskillen continued in the ascendency and could have potentially racked up a lot more points but for some small errors and indiscipline, on a few occasions they were penalised for holding on at the ruck which may have been a result of the high frequency of line breaks causing some players to get isolated often. Despite this Skins continued to play expansive Rugby with the back line looking dangerous and young First XV debutant Conor Hoy appearing very threatening on the wing. Jamie Johnston was unlucky to have a try held up following a clinical line out but the resulting Scrum was excellent and ended in a pushover try for the home side.
Holywood really looked to be struggling at the end of the half with Gareth Beatty, Maguire and Buchanan all making excellent yards when carrying ball and inflicting huge collisions on the opposition, Richmond at inside centre also made good ground and soon brought play back up in sight of the Holywood try line. Some well spotted space by Kaine Holden on the blind side of the ruck gave him his first try with a run from the 5 metre line off scrum half Paddy McCleery.
The second half looked to be staged for more of the same with Ashley Finlay at full-back nullifying any attempt by the visitors to gain territory and Nick Finlay at out-half continuing to use his numerous battering ram options to excellent effect. With an overlap out wide Nick executed a nicely timed miss pass to full back Ashley who managed to get the offload away to winger Zach Charlton for a try in the corner. Soon afterwards a spectacular try came for Alan Wilkinson who, unable to take a wayward pass, went for an agricultural volley on the half way which happened to bounce perfectly for a bewildered Wilkinson on the chase, taking the ball with glee and scoring under the posts.
Enniskillen’s dominance had a brief intermission as Gareth Beatty was unfortunate to see a yellow card for a late hit. Holywood enjoyed a lot of possession in this period and were at a stage pressuring the Enniskillen try line but failed to be consistently clinical enough to get a score, and credit to Enniskillen whose defensive structure was excellent and forced numerous errors, allowing Nick Finlay to eventually clear. Good yards were made from an Ashley Finlay counter attack which was then shifted out wide through David Buchanan to Conor Hoy on the wing, who showed great awareness to get the offload away to Alan Wilkinson for his second try.
Good running from Johnston and Finlay yet again had Skins back in the opposition half immediately after the restart and trundling up the field, and with scrum-half McCleery rucking industriously, Cadden reacted well to shift the ball out to Zach Charlton to score in the corner. Holywood looked to have little left in the tank at this stage and after another charge up field a knock on gave Holywood the put-in for a scrum on the 5 metre, which Enniskillen then mercilessly took against the head, obliterating the opposing pack in the process, Number 8 Johnston picked and went for the line but saw fit to give the pass to Wilkinson running a hard line from inside centre, securing his hat trick for the day.
The game was then controversially blown up early by the referee for apparent safety reasons as numerous Holywood players seemed to be struggling to carry on, leaving the final score at 57-3.
Captain Jamie Johnston was positive about the result and highlighted the controlled performance in what was a one sided contest.
"I am obviously very pleased with the result from Saturday, another bonus point win at home. In particular I was really impressed with how we kept our structure. Often times with a high scoring game like this the team in the ascendency can be lured into trying to score from every phase. I was really pleased that we remained composed and continued to play within our structures, going through the phases and then scoring tries when we had stretched the defence. Our video analysis this week will be very productive with lots of opportunity to assess our attacking ability.”
Enniskillen now face a huge task away to Qualifying One league leaders Instonians this Saturday in the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup Semi-Final, but this in form Skins side has been staging upsets all season and any opposition would be foolish to underestimate the challenge.