||31 - 5
Ballyclare 1xv 31 v 5 Enniskillen 1xv
Enniskillen left Ballyclare on Saturday evening on the wrong end of a heavy score line, which was largely forged in the first quarter of the match.
Enniskillen started on the back foot almost immediately after kick off, after confusion between some of the Skins pack allowed ‘Clare to pounce on loose ball and work deep into Skin’s territory. After several strong runs from the forwards left space out wide, the home side crossed the line for a try within 5 minutes.
Things went from bad to worse for Enniskillen, when Ballyclare again capitalised on turn over ball, this time from a scrappy line out. They quickly moved down the field, and after some gutsy scramble defence from the visitors, the Ballyclare fly half saw space behind the line to score a well executed chip and chase try. The conversion brought the score to 14-0.
Skin’s misery was compounded when a slick back line move brought the home side again into scoring range, this time scoring wide in the corner and leaving the away team 19-0 down after 20 minutes.
Enniskillen started to settle into the game in the second quarter, and although they didn’t get a score before halftime, they also kept the home side quiet until the break, thanks to some aggressive hits from James Carleton and defensive nous from the centre pairing of Connor Keys and James Ferguson.
Enniskillen were arguably unlucky not to come into the half time break with any points on the board, with Gavin Warrington being held up over the line after a good rolling maul, and the referee oddly penalising Enniskillen during a period of scrum dominance on the Ballyclare five metre line.
As it stood at half time, Enniskillen were 19-0 down and faced an uphill battle against a strong Ballyclare side. However, they knew that they had already come from 19-0 down that season and were ready for the second half challenge.
The second period was more promising with Mark O’Shea and Jarlath Maguire both finding space on the wings, and Jack Rutledge, Gavin Parke and Jamie Kelly making line breaks through the middle.
It was, however, Enniskillen’s undoing that they struggled to maintain a structure after several phases, leaving fly half Adam Lendrum with little or no options to mount an attack. This meant the visitors had a frustrating amount of possession with no points to show for it.
Ballyclare again showed their class, clinically finishing a score in the corner from turnover ball and bringing the score to 24-0 after the unsuccessful conversion attempt.
Yet again, Skins refused to play dead and worked their way into the home side’s 22, where Mark O’Shea scored in the corner after a slick set piece move off a scrum. Lendrum narrowly missed the touch line conversion.
At 24-5 with minutes to play Enniskillen were still refusing to give in, but it was the home side that ended on a high. After Jamie Kelly ran a great line, he was unfortunate to drop the ball over the line, and from the following scrum on their own 5 meter line, Ballyclare won a free-kick and broke the length of the pitch to score a very good team try. The final act of the match was the conversion bringing the full time score to 31-5.
On paper, it is a result that seems like a thrashing, but Enniskillen can take heart that, but for a held up try, a knock on over the line, a questionable refereeing decision and an extremely slow start; they were there or thereabouts for most of the match. 31-5 perhaps shows how good Ballyclare were, but does not paint a fair picture of the visiting teams dogged refusal to stop playing. This weekend Skins host Carrickfergus in an important league contest at Mullaghmeen to stop them falling into the lower pecking order.