||11 - 17
CIYMS 1XV 11
Enniskillen 1XV 17
Enniskillen 1st XV continued their incredible bounce back last weekend with a fifth consecutive win as they traveled away to CIYMS, managing an 11-17 victory and displacing their opponents in the league rankings as a result.
Skins trailed at half time but came back with two tries in the second half to grind out the victory in grim weather conditions against the wind. Another dominant pack performance which starved the opposition of ball along with a heroic display of defence from 1-15 sealed the victory which remained under threat right until the 80th minute.
Skins started well and made good inroads in the CI half through big carries from Jamie Kelly and Davy Buchanan, the pick and go proving effective as did carries off Nick Finlay at scrum half. The home side struggled to slow the barrage of carries and were penalised at the breakdown under pressure, allowing Nick Finlay to put Skins in the lead with 3 points after 10 minutes.
CI very quickly evened the scoreboard as they regathered from the restart in the swirling wind and began to put some good phases together which ended with Enniskillen penalised on this occasion, 3-3 after 15 minutes.
The next 20 minutes were scrappy and hard fought to say the least as conditions worsened. Skins had the majority of the possession and spent a lot of time in the CI half but conditions thwarted multiple attempts to capitalise on their territory. Handling errors and wayward passes ended some good attacking phases from Skins as they sought to build pressure and the frustration was evident. The line out was a struggle for both sides in the severe wind but John Arnold and James Carleton fought tenaciously to claim their own ball and disrupted the opposition throw often, while the scrum too was a hard fought battle against a big CI pack, momentum swinging back and forth throughout. Despite the possession Enniskillen’s accuracy cost them at times and they failed to convert the period of pressure.
CI had few opportunities in the first half but a couple of penalties at the breakdown gave them an inroad into the Skins half at the 35 minute mark. A maul off a line out on the 22’ was well stopped by a determined Skins pack but the ball went to the backs and the home side began to string phases together before crossing the line out wide, unconverted to into the half leading Skins 8-3.
The second half started with mostly a Skins onslaught once again, looking comfortable with ball in hand, the pack continuing to penetrate the defence in the narrow channels and the backs gaining ground too through Millar and Ferguson in the centre as well as a break out wide from Matty Dane who brought play well into the CI half. Claiming the line out Skins got their maul moving well before it broke down into another series of pick and go’s from the pack, supporting each other tirelessly at the breakdown and wearing the defence down before David Buchanan finally powered over the line, the conversion from Finlay to take an 8-10 lead.
CI came back hard at Skins in an effort to reclaim the lead but Enniskillen seemed to have found their flow in defence and looked comfortable to absorb the pressure; the back row of Arnold, Carleton and Rutledge putting in a massive tackling effort with Taylor off the bench providing fresh legs. The back three of O’Shea, Ashley Finlay and Dane also proved solid in defence and dealt well with the opposition kicks in behind in high wind. An unfortunate offside, however, gave CI the penalty and they managed to regain the lead with a shot at goal, now a mere 11-10 lead with only 15 minutes on the clock.
Skins put ravenous pressure on from the restart now and pinned the home side back in their half in an effort to regain the ascendency. The pack continued to carry relentlessly with props Beatty and Warrington putting in a hard shift, along with Ferguson off the bench, as Skins continued to show their patience and ball retention in possession which eventually forced a penalty from the home side in an effort to slow the progress. Lendrum kicked to touch excellently as he had all day in difficult conditions and Skins set up for another assault. The maul broke down once again into close quarter carries and Skins again won the penalty for a CI offence, opting for the tap they continued to bombard the try line before leading try scorer Gavin Warrington added to his tally when he crossed the line covered in attempted tacklers, converted for an 11-17 lead to Skins with 5 minutes remaining.
It was a nervy final 5 as CI set up camp in the Skins half and forced a composed exit from the visitors. Feeling the pressure of the clock CI piled numbers into a ruck in desperation and were penalised once again, allowing Lendrum to clear. From there Skins wound down the seconds and kicked to touch to end the contest. A huge league win away from home.
Things really couldn’t have went much better for Skins following their dismal January, winning all before them since. They now have a chance to right a past wrong as the travel to Portadown this Saturday, a side who capitalised on Skins’ poor form to beat them at Mullaghmeen back in January.