|Enniskillen 1st XV
||7 - 33
||Armagh 2nd XV (conf)
Enniskillen 1st XV 7
Armagh 2nd XV 33
Enniskillen 1st XV suffered a heavy defeat at Mullaghmeen last Saturday against Armagh 2nd XV in the first of their conference league fixtures, a harsh comedown from their victory the previous week in Portadown. Perhaps a little complacency over the debatable dead rubber nature of the senior conference league was punished early on as Armagh travelled with a very strong side and started at a blistering pace, leaving Skins looking frantic early on and with too much work to do despite improving in the second half.
Armagh played a rapid game from the kick off and moved the ball from end to end comfortably. Skins paid heavily for a sluggish start in defence as the visitors continued to break the line and exploit overlaps, leading to two early scores which left the home side 14-0 down after 10 minutes. Skins got some more possession in the next 20 minutes, mostly from a dominant scrum as props Alan Ferguson, Marcus Crawford and Jamie McKane had the upper hand throughout and penalties came their way, but a failed kick for posts after 15 minutes meant Skins were yet to get points on the board.
Skins continued to build pressure in the Armagh half but the visitors did well to disrupt the attack, thwarting numerous line outs and holding up a near try from Richard Willis over the line. Despite some brave defence and a big cover hit from James Ferguson, Armagh proved too dangerous as they exploited an overlap out wide and ran in a score from the half way. Shortly after they found a gap back inside and scored under the posts to leave the half time score 26-0.
Willie Gibson’s half time words must have hit home as Skins looked more determined in the second half. A score 5 minutes in after a stolen line out was the only points to be had for the visitors as Skins were generally more organised and retained possession better. Lendrum kicked to touch after another scrum penalty to set up an attack on the 5 metre line, and it was a clinical line out from the home side as Richie Grey popped the ball down to David Taylor who battered his way over the try line, converted by Lendrum to bring the scoreline to 33-7.
Enniskillen defended well in their own half for much of the remainder and a Kaine Holden intercept almost gathered a second score as he sprinted from his own 22’ only to be dragged down short of the line. There were too many missed opportunities unfortunately as Skins weren’t clinical enough at pivotal times and lost line outs deep in opposition territory that could have put Armagh under pressure. The game ended 7-33 to the visitors.
It was a game to forget for Enniskillen but it could be a very useful indicator of some areas to work on before they return to the serious business of league rugby away to Carrickfergus on 16th September. The 2nd XV kick off their season this Saturday at home to Armagh 3rd XV.