Lisburn 1st XV v Enniskillen 1st XV Fixture - Mar 18, 2015

Team Score Pts
Lisburn 1st XV 10 - 14 Enniskillen 1st XV

Match Report

On Wednesday last Enniskillen travelled to Eglantine Road Lisburn for this re-arranged Qualifying League encounter, hoping to build on their excellent performance against Grosvner the previous Saturday and to play out the remainder of this season’s league campaign with five victories. Owing to this being a mid-week fixture, and with several players not available due to work commitments several forced changes had to be made to the starting line-up. Club coach Norman Richmond was anxious to demonstrate how the strength of his extended squad could now deal with three games within an eight-day period and how squad rotation was going to play an important part in his plans for the remainder of the season. Enniskillen fielded with four changes in the starting line-up from the team that fielded against Grosvenor. Lisburn needed a win in this their last league outing of the season to ensure they could escape the potential prospect of relegation.

The game was played in near perfect conditions with a slight wind favouring the home side during the first period. Lisburn, having won the toss, opted to kick-off to the visitors. From the start both sides displayed an immediate desire to control possession and to dominate proceedings. In the opening ten minutes, the game was played mainly in the Enniskillen half. The visitor’s defence was resolute from the start in their determination to thwart any attempts by the opposition to advance on their line. Then, with just eleven minutes gone Enniskillen conceded a penalty for a breakdown infringement and the Lisburn duly converted to register the opening score of the evening. 

For long periods of the half neither side were able to dominate the other, with most of the action centred in the middle third of the pitch. Then, in the twenty-sixth minute, with the home side attempting to move the ball wide David Buchannon intercepted a wayward pass just inside his own half and having quickly and efficiently evaded the cover defence sprinted over forty metres before hacking the ball along the ground towards the Lisburn line. Zack Charlton, who was in close support, proved fastest to the ball and adeptly touched down under the posts to open the visitor’s account. This score settled Enniskillen, who, for the remainder of the half dominated possession at both set piece and in the loose. On several occasions they moved the ball along their back line, in an effort to stretch the home side’s defence. The pressure finally paid off when, on three separate occasions, Lisburn, in their anxiety to defend their territory, were adjudged off-side at the breakdown. Chris McVitty converted all three resulting penalties to leave the score fourteen points to five in favour of the visitors at the interval. 

Lisburn, knowing they had to up their efforts if they had any chance of a victory and much needed league points commenced the second half with a newly found impetus. From the start they controlled possession, driving deep into the Enniskillen half with a series of well-executed rucks and mauls. Then in the third minute after the re-start, and without the visitors having managed to touch the ball Lisburn scampered over the Enniskillen line to score a well worked converted try to bring them within one score of the visitor’s total. 

Enniskillen were in no mood to submit that easily. The remainder of the game was played within the home side’s twenty-two metre area. The Skins in the front row of Stephen Fox, Ryan Cathcart, and Mark Hood controlled proceedings at scrum time, and with several strikes against the head they made it difficult for the Lisburn tight eight to establish a foothold for long periods of the game.  Mid-way through the second period Lisburn conceded several penalties for collapsing the scrum five metres from their own line. Then with a certain penalty try in prospect one of the Enniskillen players decided to take a quick tap penalty, which was efficiently dealt with by the opposition defence. Definitely an opportunity squandered.

Enniskillen continued to control possession for the remainder of the second half, playing a tight driving game at every opportunity.  They enjoyed a period of dominance, building phases and protecting possession, consequently denying Lisburn any chances to attack. Enniskillen’s level of intensity at the breakdown reflected their commitment and desire to control proceedings and to hold out for a victory. The Enniskillen back row of Johnston, Cadden and Holden excelled in the loose throughout, and as hard as Lisburn tried to claw their way back into the game in the second period their efforts were constantly frustrated by the visitor’s resolute defence.