||20 - 22
Donegal Town II XV 20
Enniskillen IV XV 22
Enniskillen IV XV came from 13:0 behind at half time to record their first victory on the road this season in a gritty, hard fought game by the beach at Donegal Town RFC.
Donegal Town begun the game at a rapid pace, their inside centre finding a gap in Enniskillen's midfield within the first minutes following a mauled lineout. Although Donegal Town's no. 12 proved to be the home side's most potent attacking threat, George Richmond tracked him back with steely determination to deny his opposite number the opening score. Unfortunately for Enniskillen, even a thunderous tackle from "The Man with No Haire" in the following phase could not deny Donegal Town from skilfully shifting the ball wide and crashing over in the corner for the first points of the game.
Donegal persevered with their high tempo play which Enniskillen were having difficulty handling. Enniskillen had precious little of the ball in the first quarter and squandered what little they had with handling errors.
Returning captain Jack Harte had a positive influence on the game from no.8 with his relentless tackling and strong runs, ably assisted by openside flanker Jordan Thompson and the surprise package of the day, blindside flanker and warrior, Alistair "Douche" Beacom.
Enniskillen's forwards dealt with the much more experienced Donegal pack excellently throughout proceedings with Enniskillen's front row of David Jenkins, second row turned hooker, Benji Duffy and tight head, Oisin Duffy matching the obviously heavier Donegal scum.
During a brief period of possession, Enniskillen managed to create an overlap, but frustratingly for the travelling support, Donegal Town's winger made a big gamble to attempt an interception and received a pay out to the tune of 5 points as he ran clear into empty space and crossed the try line to double the lead to 10:0.
The visitors were finding it challenging to retain possession at the line out during large stages of the first half and mixed with some poor discipline, avoidable penalties were conceded, thus making it especially difficult to relieve the strain which Donegal were placing on Enniskillen's defensive line. Despite this, 'Skins defended strongly, forcing Donegal to elect to kick a penalty as opposed to continue the physical bombardment. The attempt at the posts was successful, leaving the home side 13:0 to the good at the midway point.
Out half, Darren Reynolds dropped back to full back as Zach Charlton came into the 10 role and controlled the immediate exchanges flawlessly. Charlton, carried, kicked and distributed the ball beautifully and was responsible for Enniskillen gaining the upper hand in the third quarter.
Wingers, Aidan McKenna and Leroy Lindsey would have preferred to see more action on the flanks, but defended admirably when called upon and fulfilled their defensive duties manfully. Rising star, Angus Keys spent some time in his favoured outside centre position and showed glimpses of his talent displaying his raw pace and evasive quality.
Enniskillen's stand in second row pairing of David Patton and Alan Ferguson grew into the game slowly, but became the side's most impressive ball carriers as the second half continued. Patton, in particular, displayed a menacing hand off on numerous occasions, making a first up tackle on the 18 year old virtually impossible.
Enniskillen were beginning to cross the gainline at every attack and before long, found themselves with set piece opportunities inside Donegal Town's 22". Scum half, Sam Greenaway broke left from a scrum and when he could have perhaps chose to hunt glory, he selflessly and skilfully floated an inch perfect pass over the helpless home defence to find Zach Charlton on the left of the pitch who finished off a beautiful move and gave the try the deserved compliment of a successful touchline conversion to bring 'Skins right back into the game at 13:7.
Enniskillen continued to dominate play, immediately returning to their opponents 22" area. Strong carries from backs and forwards alike had the home team scrambling. Oisin Duffy carried strongly into the heart of defence and clean, quick rucking gave Sam Greenaway the opportunity to probe around the sides of the ruck or release the ball quickly to oncoming forwards. Indeed, it was Greenaway's speedy and precise delivery which put Charlton away for his second of the game bringing Enniskillen back to within a single point at 13:12.
With 20 minutes still on the referee's watch, ERFC stalwart, Alistair Keys joined his son, Angus, on the rugby field and was introduced to the game with a bone shaking tackling upon receiving the restart. Unfazed, Alistair set to work in his usual uncompromising fashion.
However, Donegal Town replied immediately and in the best possible way, too as they marauded up into Enniskillen's half seemingly freely as was the intensity of their response. Ciaran Harley of Donegal Town carried the ball the required last few metres to restore a lead of 20:12.
From here, 'Skins were not going to simply lay down and accept defeat. In fact they produced perhaps the best series of phases of the day to narrow the deficit. More powerful running from Beacom, Duffy and Patton took play to within 5 metres of a score. A blend of patient phase play and aggression from the forward pack resulted in Alan Ferguson crossing over the whitewash to reduce arrears to 20:19.
With ample time on the clock, the match was still on a knife edge and was anyone's bet as to who would secure victory. It was Harte though, who carried strongly into the Donegal Town defence before fighting to offload the ball to a rampaging Alan Ferguson taking play from Enniskillen's 22" to beyond Donegal Town's 10 metre line before, in the words of Leroy Lindsey, "The diesel light came on" and Ferguson was hauled to ground. From the resultant ruck though, Enniskillen were awarded a penalty from an infringement. Charlton elected to kick for posts and was then unexpectedly moved 10 metres closer the home team's uprights when the referee sanctioned Donegal for dissent. Charlton coolly directed the ball between the posts to take the lead for the first time in the game with just 5 minutes remaining.
Donegal played the closing minutes with fire in their belly and were camped on the Enniskillen 5 metre line for what must have seemed like an eternity to the vocal home supporters. 'Skins, however, were not willing to let the game slip out of their hands so easily and repelled every attack with belligerence. Every man wearing a maroon shirt sacrificed their body to withstand the Donegal assault time and time again. Enniskillen were penalised several times for offside in the dying moments to a chorus of yellow card demands from home supporters, but Enniskillen kept 15 on the pitch and Alistair Keys seemed to be the man stepping up the meet the ferocious carries from Donegal Town's strong inside centre at each attempt. After a further series of attacks, Enniskillen managed to dislodge the ball from a Donegal man's grasp in a solid tackle. From there, the ball was collected and finally met the boot of Zach Charlton to end the game and secure a memorable 20:22 victory. Enniskillen IV XV travel to Strabane this Saturday hoping to continue their recent good form.