Enniskillen 1XV 0
Ballyclare 1XV 5
Enniskillen 1st XV welcomed Ballyclare to Mullaghmeen last Saturday in their first meeting since Skins’ historic Town’s Cup final victory back in April, with the visitors surely hoping for some revenge. As expected it was a physical contest in wet conditions with Enniskillen forced to defend for most of the fixture, a dominant Ballyclare scrummaging performance proving pivotal on a greasy surface with constant handling errors. The visitors crossed the line once in the first half after a defensive mix up and that was to remain the scoreline for the rest of the game thanks to some impressive defence from an often under pressure Enniskillen.
The visitors started well and pinned Skins in their own half with a well placed kick into touch but the home side showed their resilience with a cleanly taken lineout to clear their lines. Skins looked comfortable defending in the middle of the pitch after the clearance with Jack Harte at 12 leading the backline defence well and Gavin Parke tackling tirelessly in the pack but a penalty at the breakdown brought the visitors deep into the home 22’ for a lineout. A short throw to the front man seemed to only go a few metres but play continued and an offload to a supporter had Ballyclare sneak in for the only score of the match.
Skins efforts at getting on the front foot were severely blunted by a s strong Ballyclare scrummaging performance that yielded multiple penalties for the visitors. Skins had some flurries of attack in the opposition half before halftime with Alex Parke making a break and the pack making good ground through some hard carries from Rutledge and Carleton. Handling errors often ended periods of pressure from Skins and Ballyclare had a sound foundation for an exit with their scrum in the ascendency going into halftime.
The second half continued to see possession and territory firmly dominated by the visitors, requiring a draining defensive effort from Enniskillen who thwarted every attack. A maul inside the Skins 22’ led to a series of carries and Skins held up one score just short of the line. The game always remained in the balance and Ballyclare were keen for extra points to increase their shaky 0-5 lead as the dangerous Enniskillen back line looked much more likely to orchestrate a breakaway score, but opportunities with clean ball were rare and the passes unfortunately didn’t go to hand in key moments. The visitors almost extended their lead through a questionable breakdown penalty in the Skins half but it thankfully drifted wide and allowed Skins to retain the losing bonus point at full-time.
It was a determined performance from Enniskillen who were starved of possession by a good side that enjoyed all the momentum of the day. There were plenty of positives for Skins who kept the scoreboard to a standstill with an unbelievable defensive effort against a constant onslaught. Skins break from the league now as they head to Instonians this weekend in the Junior Cup Quarter Final.