||29 - 0
Enniskillen 3XV 29
Academy 3XV 0
Enniskillen 3rd XV began their McCambley Cup campaign at home to Belfast Academy last Saturday, even more determined to lift the trophy that eluded them in the final last season.
Despite missing captain Breen through injury, the side began well with their strong pack carrying ball through Baker and captain Richard Willis deep into the Academy 22. Academy had a well organised team and held firm in defence, thwarting several attempts to cross the whitewash until finally the most experienced team member Duncan crashed through some last ditch tacklers for the opening score. This settled any prematch nerves and the team started to build phases confidently now and recycle effective possession. However, it was an academy fumble in the backline swiftly pounced on by new boy Gibson, welcomed back to a playing role after several years coaching, that allowed fellow centre and 3s stalwart Wilkinson to chase the kick through and dive over the line after picking up a carefully weighted kick for the second try. With Lee and Cadden from the back row popping up in the backline and cutting lines through the Academy defence, it was the third back rower, Skins legend McCoy on his debut this season coming onto an offload and brushing off two tacklers to canter in from the 22 and ground the ball under the posts, giving outhalf McVitty a simple conversion.
Soon afterwards good hands in the backline sent Gibson away from the half for what seemed a simple score, but an 'Ashtonesque' swan dive allowed an Academy tackler to get under the ball as they slid over the dead ball line, leaving Gibson head in hands and everyone else chuckling. Blushes were spared soon afterwards when the resilient Academy looked to score before the half, two slipped tackles allowed their centre a run to the corner but scrum-half Henshall came from nowhere to make the tackle of the day, smashing the Academy man into touch before the line.
Old head Beatty was able to spoil a maul from a 5m lineout to Academy, ripping the ball and allowing a good exit by the excellent boot of McVitty. Half time 17-0.
In the second half Skins immediately were put under pressure, but it was encouraging to see good organisation and the defence holding firm for 20 minutes of pressure in their 22. McCoy stamped out any threat from the scrum while Wilkinson and Gibson perfected the choke tackle, leaving Lee and Cadden to make the hard yards from the turnovers. After weathering the storm, halfbacks Henshall and McVitty, who had controlled the game perfectly all afternoon, put Skins on the front foot. Counter attacks from the hard working back three of Henderson, Mulholland and Reynolds, coupled with the ever available Willis tying up defenders, saw skins press for the killer score. A skilful play from McVitty saw him break the line and, although he hadn't the gas to finish, quick thinking and recycling saw Hooker and avid poacher Wright receive a crash ball from Henshall and twist to force his way over, converted by McVitty. Mullholland was to complete the scoring with his typical slalom, spinning style run finishing some lovely team interchange. Final score 29-0.
It was a much needed tough challenge met by a very effective performance, particularly defensively, by experienced players who haven't played together much this season. The 3rd XV will be looking forward to a kind draw for the next round in two weeks but this is a team prepared for anyone in their current form.