||31 - 0
Enniskillen 1st XV 31
Clogher 1st XV 0
Enniskillen 1st XV hosted Clogher Valley on a dry but chilly morning at Mullaghmeen last Saturday for a crucial local derby fixture, with both sides having had difficult league campaigns so far. With Clogher having come off the back of a good win against Carrickfergus, it was difficult to know how the fixture would go but Skins seemed to finally find their gear and ran in an impressive 31-0 victory on the day.
It was all Clogher from the outset as they kicked off the fixture and set up camp inside the Skins 22’. In typical Clogher fashion the maul was rampant off the line out and they looked sure to cross the line but for some desperate Enniskillen defence keeping them out on multiple occasions. For the first 20 minutes Skins weathered the storm, giving away penalties under pressure in the process that had them continuously trapped deep in their own half for a prolonged period, but keeping the scoreboard unflinching. Close range carries from the Clogher pack were well met by Skins with big hits coming in from the back row of Jamie Johnston, Alex Gormley and Gareth McCoy.
After finally turning over ball and exiting their own half Skins began to put some strong attacking phases together. The Skins line out functioned well and provided a good platform for the backs through Grayson Donnelly and Kaine Holden. Slick hands through the back line found centre Connor Keys who sent a perfect pass out to James Ferguson on the wing who ran almost 40 metres to score the first try of the contest, unconverted to go 5-0 up. The pack responded well from the restart with a rampaging take from Gareth McCoy who offloaded to Holden, bringing play back into the Clogher half. The Skins pack continued to make good ground through some rampant carries and Alex Gormley crossed the line only to be deemed held up. The resultant scrum, however, featured a huge drive from the pack through the front row of Ferguson, Cathcart and Beatty which then dropped on the Clogher side inches from the try line; the referee awarding a penalty try for the action which put Skins 12-0 up going into the end of the half.
Clogher didn’t lie down and the second half required another grind from Skins to get in the ascendency. Clogher’s line out continued to operate well and the pack carried hard at the home side. The physicality of Skins was leagues above what it has been in previous weeks however, and the defence never missed a beat as the pack worked itself ragged. Penalties began to come Enniskillen’s way now and Lendrum kicked them deep into Clogher’s half. The visitors defended the Skins maul well but an infringement had Skins with a 5 metre scrum, the ball went blind to Tyler Millar at pace who stepped through the defence to score in the corner, converted by Lendrum to go 19-0 up.
Skins were growing confident now and shortly afterwards, a set move from the backs found Matty Dane who spotted a gap and coasted through a host of scrambling Clogher defence to score under the posts, converted to go 26-0 up. A scuffle broke out on the grounding of the try which had Kaine Holden and BJ Wilson exit the field with yellow cards, and a penalty to Skins immediately off the restart. Clogher tried to move the ball in the final 10 minutes to look for a consolation score but Skins continued to apply a lot of pressure in defence and a fumble in midfield was gathered by Connor Keys who ran in a 40 metre try for the last play of the game, converted to end proceedings 31-0 to Enniskillen.
A high scoring win against the local rivals will always be celebrated at Enniskillen but more importantly it was an excellent performance with heaps of desire shown from a talented side that have struggled to find form lately. The pack looked aggressive and hungry for the contest while the back line played some scintillating rugby. Ashley Finlay was spectacular at fullback and tore through the Clogher defence on numerous occasions.
The 1st XV now have a weekend off before heading to Ballynahinch 2nd XV on December 30th in the conference, they then host Portadown on January 6th in another important league fixture, a win will leave them in a much better position going into 2018.