Enniskillen 1st XV 18
Carrickfergus 1st XV 7
Enniskillen 1st XV bounced back from a poor showing against Portadown the previous week to see off visitors Carrickfergus last Saturday in a determined and clinical performance from Skins.
Carrick were first on the scoreboard early on as they kicked into the Skins half and pinned the side down well in the early phases. A penalty allowed the visitors to kick to the corner and the big pack were hard stopped as they rumbled over the line from 5 metres out, converted to go 0-7 up. There was no panic in the ranks as Skins gathered themselves and play resumed.
The Skins pack pressured the visitors hard from the restart and the defence was much more aggressive. The back row of Gormley, Johnston and McCoy neutralised the hard carrying Carrick pack with an industrious tackling performance. Lendrum communicated well in defence as did the centre partnership of Law and Keys which left little space for the Carrick attack. The visitors attempted to clear their lines but Finlay did well under the high ball and Tyler Millar on the wing put together some blistering runs in response.
From a Carrick clearance kick Michael Law began a counter attack in his own half and fed the ball to James Ferguson who cut inside and offloaded to Alex Gormley in support, tackled on the 22’ the ball was quickly moved through Lendrum to Finlay on the wing who crossed for the first try, unconverted to bring the scoreline 5-7.
The second half was all Skins now as the line out functioned well through Holden and the scrum began to put Carrick under pressure, the front row of Ferguson, Cathcart and Fox helping claim the lion’s share of possession for the home side with penalties and stolen feeds mounting for Skins. Sustained pressure in the Carrick half forced repeated penalties from the visitors and Lendrum slotted 3 points to put Skins leading 8-7.
A Gareth McCoy break shortly after the restart almost claimed another try as he offloaded to Gavin Parke who raced for the try line under pressure, only to be tackled and called up for a double movement. Skins didn’t relent, however and kept Carrick pinned in their own half. A Carrick knock-on at the line out led to a Skins scrum 15 metres out from the opposition line, Johnston picked and went down the blindside and fed Matty Dane who passed to Millar, the winger finishing well in the corner, unconverted to go 13-7 up.
Play continued to be mostly in the Carrick half as Skins forced errors from the home side and Lendrum pinned them back with some excellently placed kicks, the fresh legs of David Buchanan and Ricky Lee in the pack giving the visitors no relief as the forwards continued to bombard the Carrick line; eventually the ball was spread to Lendrum who found James Ferguson, stepping through a gap to score in the corner; unconverted to lead 18-7.
Skins knew a bonus point was now achievable and there was no less determination in the dying minutes as they pushed for another score. Carrick to their credit continued to defend well and gave no easy yards to the home side. The final whistle blew to end proceedings, a crucial win and encouraging performance from a much more ruthless looking Skins side.
The 1st XV head to Instonians this weekend, the dominant side in the league alongside Ballyclare, but one that was no more dominant than Enniskillen when they hosted Carrick the previous week, and who could just as easily be susceptible to an upset. The main concern for Skins will be to maintain this level of desire in their next performance as they remain in a dangerous position in the league where every point counts in the coming weeks.