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Enniskillen 1st XV sealed their place in the Town’s Cup quarter-final last week as they put in a convincing 5-22 win away to Dungannon 2nd XV under floodlights last Wednesday night. Skins failed to capitalise on plenty of territory and dominant phases in the first half but they successfully wore the home side down with another flawless set piece display and ran in three tries in the second half.
It was an arm wrestle in the first half as Dungannon looked up for the challenge and their number eight looked particularly dangerous with ball in hand. Enniskillen’s defence was solid, however, and their dominant scrum gave them the Lion’s share of possession. James Carleton and Jack Rutledge caused plenty of disruption at the Dungannon line out too while securing their own ball, leaving the home side with few options. An early injury to Ricky Lee forced a reshuffle with Gary Thornton coming into the pack but the forwards remained dominant with big carries coming from Jamie Kelly and David Buchanan to bring play deep into the Dungannon half. Skins were camped inside the opposition 22 or an extended period now trying to get on the scoreboard, eventually forcing penalties as the home side felt the pressure while defending their own try line tenaciously. A John Maguire kick at goal unfortunately drifted wide and Skins regrouped to go again.
Dungannon’s defence continued to be resolute as they held out a rampant Enniskillen maul and more pick and go’s charging towards the line, leaving Enniskillen settling for 3 points from the boot of Lendrum going into the end of the first half despite all their dominance. Enniskillen showed their determination in defence too when Dungannon almost picked up a try late in the second half but for some excellent cover tackling from Mark O’Shea to hold up a score.
The second half opened up a lot more for Enniskillen as the home side tired while frustration undoubtedly sunk in as their set piece continued to let them down, props Beatty, Warrington and Ferguson off the bench punishing the home side. Another Skins maul brought play up to the Dungannon line and it was David Buchanan who drove over for the first try of the game, a well struck conversion from Lendrum out wide to lead 0-10.
From the restart the backs finally got to show their ability as Mark O’Shea instigated a try from nothing, collecting the ball and running around the sweeping Dungannon defence to find Ashley Finlay in support, popping to Tyler Millar who used his quick feet to step around the scrambling defence and seal the second score, unconverted to lead 0-15.
Dungannon to their credit refused to let the contest slip away and capitalised on some errors to work their way deep into the Skins half. Skins defended well to keep the close quarter carries out but the backs found some space out wide and crept over to bring the scoreline to 5-15.
The restart failed to go 10 and Skins were happy to go back for the scrum and begin to build some phases. A James Carleton break brought play up inside the Dungannon 22’ and had the home side under pressure once again. A handling error ended a good period of attack but the Enniskillen scrum continued to torment the opposition and a stolen put-in was passed out to John Arnold on the wing who crossed for a score, converted expertly by Lendrum to bring the scoreline to 5-22. Dungannon to their credit continued to battle to the end and the tally remained the same to the whistle.
The draw for the Quarter Final sees Enniskillen host Ballymena 2XV on February 23rd, but their focus must now turn to the league where they remain under pressure as they host Cooke this Saturday, kicking off at 2.30pm.