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BHSFP 2nd XV 3 Enniskillen 3rd XV 29
After securing the regional league honours just before Christmas, Enniskillen’s mighty 3rds made the long journey to Greenisland in East Belfast to start the Regional rugby Premier section, facing reigning Premier section champions BHSFP 2nd XV, knowing this was likely to be their biggest test of the season to date.
The game had a rather sluggish start with both sides showing a lot of ring rust after a long break during the festive period. This was to the home sides advantage as they were keen to slow play down, sometimes illegally. But Enniskillen kept calm and started to gradually wear their opponents down. The greasy conditions led to numerous scrums which was to Enniskillen’s advantage, with Nolan, Beatty and especially stand in prop Wright absolutely dominating their physically bigger opponents at scrum time.
Skins were gaining good territory after another Belfast infringement 30 metres from their line; Maguire opening the scoring with a sweetly struck penalty kick on 25 minutes. The game was still a little scrappy and lacked any pattern which was again to the home sides benefit. When play made it close to the Enniskillen ‘22’, a Skins infringement let the home side level the scoring at 3-3 on 30 minutes.
From the restart a short Kick from McVitty was excellently claimed in the air by Jamie Gibson. From this the Enniskillen pack were making good inroads on the home side again, fantastic hard running from Duncan, Lee and Willis, assisted by energetic wing forwards Roofe and Jamie Gibson seen play return closer to the BHSFP try line. Belfast briefly turned over the ball only to clear to touch on ‘22’. From the resulting lineout, Wrights throw found the imperious Roofe. A driving maul and several pick and go’s seen Skins get closer to the try line. Calm play seen Wilkinson pick a fantastic running line to slice through the defence from 7 metres for the opening try of the game. Maguire converted to leave Skins 10-3 up. The restart brought play into the Enniskillen half. Failure to clear the lines and a turnover just outside Enniskillens 22 seen BHSFP get a kickable penalty in front of the posts. Thankfully for Enniskillen the kicker sliced his attempt wide to leave the visitors 10-3 to the good at half time.
Skins kicked off the second period playing down the slight hill knowing what they had to do to to win the match. Centres Wilkinson and Willie Gibson were using their power and experience to make good ground at any chance. Both players got individual reward, Wilkinson added his second try after another fantastic clean break which was converted by Maguire, shortly after Willie Gibson got his name on the score sheet after some clever off loads from the dominating Enniskillen forwards.
BHSFP continued to try and slow the game down by lying all over the ball, Enniskillen scrum half Kyle took matters into his own hands removing the lanky BHSFP lock from one of these rucks with sheer brute force and ignorance! Belfast tried to get territory to get something out of the game, but several loose kicks seen skins back 3 of Henderson, Henry and McClaughry return the ball with pacy runs keeping the pressure on for a bonus point.
Finally after a lot of pressure from Skins, a turnover on halfway seen McVitty gather a loose ball and show a surprising turn of speed to out pace the covering defence for a fine solo try, converted by Maguire, which guaranteed Enniskillen a maximum 5 point haul in what was a harder game than the scoreline suggests.
With this performance Enniskillen 3rds put out a resounding message to their forthcoming opponents in both league and cup that they are using their hurt from last season to motivate this seasons quest for silverware. The league resumes for the team on 2nd February when they host Lisburn at home in the league.