Enniskillen 1XV 25
Grosvenor 1XV 22
Enniskillen 1st XV returned to league action last Saturday hosting a top four league side in the form of visitors Grosvenor. Skins started strong in greasy conditions underfoot but the Belfast side refused to lie down and put pressure on Skins right until the hand, picking up 4 tries in the process as repeated penalties from the home side gave them excellent territory to build on throughout. Thankfully some determined defence and a couple of crucial kicks made the difference and secured the victory on the day.
After losing the pivotal James Carleton in the warmup, Skins still managed to start well. An initial slip at the scrum was soon rectified and this proved a dominant force for Skins from then on through the front row of Warrington, Cathcart and Beatty, with Fox effective off the bench. An early penalty from the scrum allowed Skins to take the lead through the boot of Nick Finlay to go 3-0 up.
Skins' kick chase was much improved from previous weeks which forced the visitors to kick to a threatening back three of O’Shea, Finlay and Parke. Alex Parke proved this a poor tactic when he gathered the ball deep in the Skins half and broke down the wing stepping multiple defenders to score an outstanding solo effort, converted by Nick Finlay to lead 10-0.
The intensity certainly didn’t drop from Skins but repeated penalties gave Grosvenor far too much territory; their lineout proved unflappable and their forward pack carried well led by their number eight. While the Skins defence was in good form they spent too much time on their own line and Grosvenor crossed for two tries in a short space of time, both unconverted to level the game at 10-10.
Skins settled themselves now and looked to work their way into the Grosvenor half. A lineout in the Grosvenor half led to a rampant maul which brought play within the 22’ and broke down into a series of carries from the pack, Buchanan and Rutledge powering towards the line but it was Nick Finlay who spotted a gap and crossed for a try, which he converted to regain the lead 17-10 at the half.
Skins kept the pressure on from the start of the second half, forcing a penalty from the restart through good pressure from Jamie Kelly and allowing Finlay to extend the lead to 20-10. From the restart Skins were back in the Grosvenor half yet again and following another maul and series of pick and go’s the ball went wide and Mark O’Shea rounded defenders before offloading to Ashley finlay who popped back inside to John Maguire on an excellent line who finished an excellent score from the backs, unconverted to lead 25-10.
There would be no breathing room for Skins however as Grosvenor pushed for a resurgence in the last 30 minutes, spending the majority of their time in the Skins half and forcing a gruelling defensive effort and some big hits from the centre pairing of Harte and Manuel. Alex Parke saw a yellow card for an attempted interception deemed illegal and after some more time on the Skins line Grosvenor eventually were forced to go out wide and they crossed for an unconverted score, trailing only 25-15 now.
Shortly after Parke returned to the field another crunching tackle from Him Manuel was deemed high and Skins were once again down to 14 and defending a hard carrying Grosvenor pack and pacy back line. The visitors moved the ball well and the out half exploited a scrambling Skins defence by scything through a gap to score under the posts, converted to come within 3 points of the lead at 25-22.
With only a minute left Grosvenor were targeting an upset and found some space out wide off the restart for their pacy winger; fortunately for Skins the last pass was forward and that ended the contest, or they may have had a tense finish.
It was a solid performance for Skins against good visiting opposition and they showed their ability to see out a game under pressure, particularly as many things didn’t go their way on the day. Skins still have work to do on their game management and discipline but the raw materials are certainly there, the pack looking typically physical and the back line severely threatening now with the return of Ashley Finlay and the injection of pace from newcomer Parke.