Portadown 1XV 14
Enniskillen 1XV 23
Enniskillen 1st XV continued their remarkable ascent up the league table last weekend with an away victory over Portadown. This is the second week in a row Skins have beaten a side on their own turf to leapfrog them in the league table, a far cry from their league performances earlier this year, and it’s safe to say the team have found their gear now.
The game teetered back and forth with both sides scoring two tries each but ultimately Skins were the dominant force; the scrum yielding numerous penalties once again and Nick Finlay’s boot was primed to punish the opposition.
Skins started well playing with the wind, pressuring the kick off and forcing errors from the home side. The Portadown pack were keen to carry but Skins looked comfortable making their tackles; in attack Skins were making yards but were fairly narrow in the early stages and were met with a lot of heavy traffic as a result. Fortunately for Skins the home side were over enthusiastic and gave away penalties at the breakdown that allowed Finlay to claim first blood, slotting 3 points from the tee.
From the restart the Portadown backs showed their ability, after some hard yards from the forwards the ball found Skins short of numbers on the blind side and their winger made a break with a man in support to run in a well worked but fairly soft try, converted to go 7-3 up.
Frustrated but resolute Skins pressured the restart and made sure to pin the home side in their half this time. Determined defence and hits from Carleton, Arnold and Buchanan had the home side making errors and eventually Skins had the put-in to the scrum, which seemed to find it’s feet after a slow start, gaining ground before breaking down into a series of carries that ended when Nick Finlay spotted a gap and dived through to just touch down on the line, converted to regain the lead 7-10.
Skins attacked well from the restart but a handling error had them back in their own half on the back foot attempting to reorganise the defence, Portadown took their opportunity well and crossed the line for their second score, converted to lead 14-10. going into the end of the half.
The second half was a much more composed display from Skins and they began to take control of the game; the scrum proving a dominant feature yet again that laid the foundations for most of their points, Warrington, Cathcart and Fox causing problems for the Portadown pack along with Ferguson off the bench making an impact. A penalty from a Skins scrum near the Portadown 22’ allowed Finlay to chip away at the deficit with 3 points from a shot at goal to leave things at 14-13.
Skins’ physicality was up a level now and they looked comfortable defending the home side, the pack working hard off the line while the back line were rock solid, the back three of O’Shea, Ashley Finlay and Dane dealing with the kicking threat and opposition backs flawlessly. Gaps began to open up in attack now and Jamie Kelly was hard to contain with ball in hand along with Rutledge and Thornton off the bench wearing the home side’s defence down.
Lendrum’s boot was ever ready to punish Portadown’s penalty count and pin them back in their own half with kicks to touch, aided by the Skins line out which functioned well in the conditions and their maul began to gather steam inside the Portadown 22’. Another penalty came for collapsing the maul and Finlay put Enniskillen in the lead once again 14-16.
Frustration built in the home side now and a Portadown forward saw a yellow card for his reaction after another penalty offence at the breakdown, not helping their position in the scrum. Skins kicked into the Portadown half now and began to probe the line yet again. Another penalty came their way and they naturally opted for the scrum. After a couple of resets the seemingly inevitable penalty try came the way of Enniskillen, giving them a solid lead of 14-23 with 10 minutes to go.
Skins were happy to wind down the clock now with ball in hand although an off the ball scuffle had Fox shown a yellow card. In the final minutes Enniskillen were back near the Portadown line but with the job well and truly done they kicked to touch to end the match.
It was a major milestone for this Skins side to pick up this important away win against a team who capitalised on their poor form earlier, effectively exorcising a few more January demons.
The 1st XV leave their league position a lot more positive now as they look to their semi-final away to neighbours Clogher this Saturday.