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Enniskillen 2nd XV 33
Armagh 3rd XV 34
It was a thrilling opener to Enniskillen 2nd XV’s league season last Saturday at Mullaghmeen as they hosted Armagh 3rd XV, ending in an excruciating 33-34 defeat to the visitors with a crushing 3 point penalty to end the game. Armagh looked to be a physical side and drew first blood with an early score to take the lead after some hard running from the forwards. Skins responded well and some powerful carrying put the visitors on the back foot.
After a period building pressure in the Armagh half, Jamie Kelly at number eight staged a rampaging carry and shrugged off defenders before offloading to Jamie McKane in support who crossed the line, converted to bring the scoreline to 7-8.
Shortly afterwards Skins were in the opposition half yet again and devastating scrummaging from the front row of Sam Parke, Matthew McCabe and Ricky Lee sent the Armagh pack back tracking before Joel Mulholland broke from the flank and coasted in for a try, putting Skins in the lead 14-10.
Enniskillen looked in good form now as the scrum dominated and the line out functioned well with MuIholland having a good game in the air. It was a break from Josh Kyle at scrum half that next caught the defence unawares and Paddy McCleery was in support for Skins’ third try, now leading 21-10 at the half.
The visitors weren’t to lie down despite the dominant period for Skins, and a slick back line ran in two scores in quick succession early in the second half to eradicate Skins’ hard work and leave them trailing 24-21.
Ewan Ferguson found space out wide from his own half and carved through defenders to well inside the Armagh 22’ before offloading to McCleery in support yet again to cross the line and regain the lead, restoring the home side dominance at 26-24.
Shortly after the restart a deft kick from Armagh put them deep in the Skins half and threatening once again. A Herculean effort from the Skins pack kept the visitors at bay with industrious work from second row pairing Gary Thornton and Eric Elliott, and a crucial choke tackle turnover from Ricky Lee. However, Skins struggled to use these opportunities to get out of their own half and Armagh eventually managed to get over the line after a long period of carries from inside the 5 metre line, now leading 31-26.
The rollercoaster continued as Josk Kyle made a break well into the Armagh half following the restart, a chip through and grubber along the ground had McCleery in pursuit and just managing to touch the ball down short of the dead ball line for his hat trick, Skins now leading 33-31.
It was a tense final few minutes as Skins sought to hold off Armagh but a penalty just inside the half gave Armagh a chance to win the game, and their kicker, to his credit, nailed a long distance attempt under pressure for an agonising last play victory.
It was a hard result to take for the 2nd XV but a great spectacle and small elements of fine tuning should make this group of young players a formidable side. There were good performances throughout with a young pack putting in a physical showing and in the backline the back three of Kelly, Henry and McVitty defended well out wide and staged some good counter attacks, while newcomer Tyler Millar caused problems for an experienced Armagh centre pairing. The 2nd XV continue their league campaign hosting Ards this Saturday while the 1st XV head away to Carrick.