||25 - 7
After their early departure from the Towns Cup, and the threat of relegation creeping into the minds of some supporters, Enniskillen took the field against high-flying CIYMS, knowing that anything short of a victory would be unsatisfactory.
Both teams were greeted by a cold and stormy Saturday afternoon, and a playing surface that resembled a quagmire, but it was the home side who adapted to the conditions quicker. Enniskillen soon started patiently putting phases together and working their way towards the CIYMS line, where eventually the pressure became too much, with Gavin Parke spotting a gap at a ruck and coasting over the line for his first try of the day. Lendrum was unsuccessful with the conversion.
Enniskillen then added a second when a move off the back of a scrum saw the ball pass through the hands of Johnston, McCleery, Finlay and then Balmer, who was given a glimmer of space on the wing, which he utilised fully, fending one would-be tackler, and side stepping another to finish brilliantly in the corner. Unfortunately for Lendrum, his conversion attempt hit the post.
By no means was it all one-way traffic in the first half, however. CIYMS threatened several times with intelligent backline movements leading to line breaks. Twice Enniskillen held on thanks to the scramble defence of Ashley Finlay, but he could not prevent the Belfast outfit from scoring after the third break. After a successful conversion, the deficit was reduced to 10-7 at half time.
A decisive half-time team talk from head coach William Gibson sent Enniskillen into the second half knowing that there was still a lot of work to do to ensure victory. Despite the away side seeing a lot of the ball in the early parts of the second half, they struggled to break down the resolute Ennskillen defence, thanks to the exceptional work rate of not only the combative back row of Gareth McCoy, Jamie Johnston and Gavin Parke; but the tireless efforts of the skipper, Ryan Cathcart, who appeared to be everywhere on the pitch.
Aside from the odd penalty letting the visitors off the hook, CIYMS’ only option became to kick possession away, which Ashley Finlay was all too happy to return with interest. As the game wore on, CIYMS tired, which allowed ‘Skins to turn the screw on their opponents.
After having won the ball deep in CIYMS’ territory, Kaine Holden, doing well not to succumb to the cold, went on a barnstorming run into the CI 22, but appeared to drop the ball and grubber it forward ten metres from the away side’s line. Gavin Parke, who was one of the only men who didn’t stop, expecting to hear the referee’s whistle, gathered the ball and scored. Adam Lendrum, fearing the intervention of the TMO, rushed his conversion and missed in the process, at least that was his post match assessment.
CIYMS continued to attack Enniskillen, but the leaky defence from the first half had been fixed, with James Ferguson cutting off most attacks at source. After one such tackle, Enniskillen turned the ball over and shipped it wide to Kaine Holden, who looked at home on the wing. Holden still had twenty metres to get to the line, but with one strong fend he found himself scoring in the corner. Lendrum was again unlucky with the wide conversion.
There was still time for one last venture into the CIYMS half, this time utilising the blindside off a scrum, where the ball found its way to Finlay who beat one defender and set up a two on one for Balmer on the wing. Balmer then popped back inside to Finlay, who got caught just shy of the line. With support from Balmer on his inside, and McCleery on his outside, he offloaded to his scrum half, who beat the last man and scored under the posts. Lendrum continued his unfortunate 100% kicking rate, pushing the conversion to the right of the posts.
A much-needed bonus point victory against good quality opposition, should instil confidence in the Mullaghmeen men, but another big performance is required against Cooke this Saturday to ensure they remain outside the relegation zone.