|Coleraine 1st XV
||11 - 3
||Enniskillen 1st XV
Enniskillen failed to get back to winning ways yet again on Saturday with a hard fought defeat away to a physical Coleraine side. Despite losing a home fixture against this side earlier in the season, Enniskillen would have been confident going into this game after registering wins against higher ranked league sides like Academy and Randalstown in January. However this was not to be on the day as Enniskillen struggled to maintain or utilise much of their own possession for any significant period, and spent the majority of the game defending an onslaught of carries from a bulky Coleraine pack.
Coach Norman Richmond is clearly disappointed by the outcome and the results of the last few weeks but maintains that with the remaining fixtures and the right attitude his side can finish well this season.
“Today’s result was disappointing really i didn’t feel we played anywhere near to our potential, the pitch conditions were difficult and let us down anytime we tried to put anything fluid together in attack and we needed to be clinical with the few opportunities we had, fair play to Coleraine who carried out their tactics well and kept ball in hand for most of the game.
“It’s been a tough few weeks but i have every bit of faith in the boys that if they react well to this and stay focused we can regain our form and finish strong in this league”.
Enniskillen started the first half playing into a strong wind and initial carries from David Buchanan and Kaine Holden made good yards to put Coleraine under pressure, with an eventual breakdown infringement allowing Chris McVitty to kick Enniskillen into the lead by three points. Coleraine responded well with intelligent use of the wind to pin Enniskillen back in their own half with well placed kicks; the pressure mounted for Skins as conditions also caused problems for their line out in the early stages with Cathcart being penalised on numerous occasions for a crooked throw, though the scrummaging contest was fairly balanced throughout with the relatively small front row of Hood, Cathcart and Fox holding their own well against large opposition.
While playing in their own half the defensive effort from Enniskillen was resolute, with big hits from Michael Cadden and Jamie Johnston keeping the home side well reined in, and the tenacious Jack Harte was an absolute menace around the breakdown to disrupt Coleraine’s ball, but when gaining possession Enniskillen seemed to lack conviction and were quickly shut down or forced into making errors by the Coleraine defence. Frustration eventually began to show as a break down infringement in Enniskillen’s half yielded Coleraine their first penalty and three points. From the restart it was much the same story as Coleraine continued their narrow attacking patterns and eventually forced another penalty from the visitors and took the lead with a further three points to leave the score 6-3 at the half.
In the second half Enniskillen now had the wind at their backs but remained starved of possession by the Coleraine side, who to their credit showed patience in their arguably one dimensional but effective game plan of short range Rugby. This worked well for the home side and Enniskillen were forced to deliver a lengthy defensive effort, with Nick Finlay and Alan Wilkinson in the centres marshalling the back line defence well, and Ashley Finlay providing solid cover at full-back. An eventual shift through the hands from the Coleraine out-half led to a pacy break from the winger and had Skins playing deep in their own half, the forwards continued to front up defensively with a big tackle count from Mark Hood among others. Eventually in what seemed inevitable after such sustained pressure inside the Enniskillen 22-metre line the Coleraine centre ran a line at full pace, following a tap penalty on the 5-metre from the scrum-half, and crossed Skins’ try line for an unconverted score to leave Enniskillen trailing 11-3, and likely out of sight at this stage given the tight contest. Enniskillen continued to seek out an elusive score for the remainder of the game and there were certainly sparks of what the side were capable of but unfortunately their attacking form never really materialised on the day.
Enniskillen now play Carrickfergus, placed second in the league, at home this Saturday and despite beating them in an away fixture back in November they will be wary of this in form side and no doubt be anxious to return to winning ways.