||5 - 0
Enniskillen U18 5
Ballyclare U18 0
Skins U18s welcomed Ballyclare RFC to Mullaghmeen in their opening pool stage match of the Ulster Cup. Conditions were terrible with a gale force wind straight down the pitch making it a game of two halves. Skins had the advantage in the first half and made a solid start containing the opposition in their 22. The wind made lineouts almost impossible to complete but it was following a rare straight feed that the skins forwards mauled their way close to the Ballyclare line and, with a couple of quick recycled phases of play, it was Oisin Timoney who touched down for the valuable 5 point try, the almost impossible conversion just the wrong side of the upright.
Heads were up now and many thought skins were going to kick on from here. They dominated territory with Ballyclare rarely getting relief out of their 22 but in difficult conditions the only thing being notched up was handling errors on both sides. Neither side gave up trying to play rugby but at critical times the scoring opportunities went begging for the home side with maybe 3 or 4 scores going amiss by forwards and backs alike.
Half time offered some welcome shelter from the elements and a change of mindset that having pinned Ballyclare down in the first half that they would do the same for the next 35 minutes to us and that's exactly what the visitors tried to do. With the elements making it almost impossible to exit territory via kicking it was left to some good old traditional style rugby to try and add to the scoreboard. Skins went toe to toe with the constant barrage of Ballyclare attacks and the defence was top drawer with hardly a tackle missed all day. The forwards counter rucked like demons with special mentions having to go unapologetically to Oisin Timoney and Niall Keenan who constantly frustrated the visitors stealing ball all afternoon allowing Skins to ease the pressure time and time again.
When the home team did secure possession they frequently managed to get into the opposition half and create scoring opportunities but again handling errors at crucial times gave back possession and the relieving kick, wind assisted, putting skins back into their own 22 to have to start all over again. Ballyclare did threaten the Enniskillen line on lots of occasions with their big pack hitting it up hard through the middle but time and time again the skins defence stood firm. With the clock ticking down Skins supporters couldn't help but think this had 5-7 written all over it but the commitment and fight of the entire playing squad, the fitness and their desire to progress in the competition dictated the final result of 5-0.
It's on to Instonians away this Saturday in the Cup again but in the meantime a rare Wednesday night outing at the quarter final stage of the Nutty Krust competition against Randalstown in Portadown.