||19 - 5
Enniskilen 1st XV 19
Dromore 1st XV 5
Enniskillen 1st XV finally returned to winning ways in the league last Saturday as they saw off a physical Dromore side at Mullaghmeen. It was a highly competitive contest that had Skins eventually dominate due to industrious efforts from the pack to gather hard yards, intelligent counter attack and some moments of brilliance from Robert Baloucoune and James Ferguson.
The fixture was an arm wrestle at the start and Dromore carried hard at the Skins line, asking a big defensive effort from the home side. The Dromore out half tested the back three on quite a few occasions with some probing kicks but Ashley Finlay was in fine form, consistently solid under the high ball and proving a threat on every counter attack. The scrum between the usually dominant Skins and Dromore pack were fairly even but Enniskillen got the upper hand on a few occasions with Beatty at tighthead prop proving a handful. One such instance led to the first try as the ball went blind off the back of a scrum and found Robert Baloucoune, running an excellent line in and then cutting out to leave his opposite man for dead to finish under the posts, well slotted by Lendrum to go 7-0 up.
The forwards made some good ground too from open play in the first half. Holden carried well off the scrum and prop Alan Ferguson made great yards while throwing some clinical off loads.
Dromore were not a side to lie down, however, and made good inroads into the Skins half after the try. Setting up a line out just outside the Skins’ 5 metre line Dromore battered the Skins line with short range carries before eventually sneaking over for an unconverted try to leave the score 7-5.
Skins looked calm and controlled coming into the second half despite the small margin and continued to defend well against the visitors; Carleton, Parke and Harte making crucial tackles. Despite the formidable Skins back three, Dromore continued to send kicks in behind the defensive line and this seemed to only hand possession back to the home side. The visitors defended well for a long time as Johnston and Buchanan carried hard at their line, while Law and Keys looked for gaps in the centre, but eventually the stalemate ended off the back of another scrum. Holden picked off the back of a good shove from the pack and somehow wrestled an offload to pacy scrum half James Ferguson who left the defence for dead to score under the posts, converted to go 12-5 up.
Dromore, to their credit, didn’t lie down after the second try and continued to make life difficult for the home side, working hard to disrupt the maul and defending tenaciously near the ruck. The space proved to be out wide once again following a period of pressure from Skins just inside the Dromore half; nice hands across the back line found Baloucoune once again in space and he wove through the Dromore defence for his second try, converted by Lendrum.
Enniskillen regrouped quickly, now seeing an opportunity for the bonus point, however, with only minutes left and Dromore continuing to work hard, a knock on ended the contest at 19-5.
Forwards Coach Stevie Welsh was encouraged by the renewed vigour from the pack against solid opposition.
“I was happy with the performance overall. We have been unlucky over the past month or so but took matters into our own hands against a big physical Dromore side.
“Our defence was solid and it sets us up well for the quarter final next week. There is a belief about the squad and we know if we perform we are hard to beat. On a personal note I am very happy with the development of Holden, Alan Ferguson and Cathcart who are maturing into great forwards.”
It was a great result for Enniskillen who have had little league success in 2017 owing to a tough set of January fixtures against in form teams. The side have shown maturity to turn this around and now sit 5th in the table, with top four still possible, and head into a Town’s cup Quarter Final this weekend away to Ards.