ENNISKILLEN 1st XV 8
INSTONIANS 1st. XV 3
On Saturday last Enniskillen welcomed Belfast side Instonians to Mullaghmeen for this eagerly anticipated Qualifying League encounter, with both sides starting the day anxious to build on their promising starts to the season and to maintain their respective top four league positions. Skins having secured an away bonus point victory the previous week were focused on reversing the result of the corresponding fixture last season, when Instonians, having taken advantage of an opposition mistake scored an injury time try to secure a win and all four points, despite Enniskillen having lead for the entire eighty minutes of normal time. As a result of mid-week mishaps neither Jamie Kelly nor Stephan Fox were considered fit for selection and in their absence Enniskillen welcomed back James Carleton, Alan Ferguson and Gavin Parke to the starting line-up.
In perfect weather conditions Instonians, having won the toss, opted to kick-off to the home side who, having gathered the ball cleanly, displayed immediate intent by controlling possession, building several phases and driving forward.
In the second minute and from a driving maul the ball was fed back by the Skins scrum half Nick Finley to full back Alex Parke, who, from well inside his own half out-flanked the opposition defence to run over sixty metres to touch down for the opening score of the afternoon.
Instonians response to this early conceded try was immediate. In an effort to control territory they reverted to a long kicking pattern, and from the re-start sent the ball deep into the Enniskillen 22' in an attempt to establish field position deep in the home side’s half. But despite the best efforts of the Belfast side the Skin’s defence remained resolute in their determination to thwart any attempt to cross their line.
Eventually the ball was turned over and cleared much to the delight of the home supporters. The Enniskillen scrum and maul dominated throughout. The Instonians front row were no match for Beatty, Warrington and Cathcart, who were tirelessly supported, both in the tight and the loose, by Carleton and Buchanan in the second row. The back row combination of Kennedy, Harte and Rutledge excelled in their efforts to close down any opposition attempt to build momentum.
Fryers and McCormick were outstanding for Instonians and although Enniskillen were dominating possession for long periods their defensive covering managed to keep the visitors in the game. Such was the evenness of the contest that neither back line ever really established a foothold in the game. Mid way through the second half Instonians were awarded a penalty, which was duly converted by out half McCarthy to leave a mere two points between the sides.
The Skins supporters need not have worried as very shortly after the referee awarded a penalty for the visitors again collapsing a driving maul, Nick Finlay duly obliged with the resulting kick to restore a five point margin.
The game finished eight points to three with Enniskillen registering their first competitive win over Instonians in some years. Although the home side dominated possession throughout, their lack of discipline at the breakdown at crucial times cost them dearly. If they can manage to reduce the number of penalties conceded Skins can compete with any side in Section One.
Enniskillen finished the day in third position in the league and with the squad of players and talent available must focus on a top four finish in this year’s completion. Their attention now moves to their next league encounter which is with Ballyclare in two weeks time.