Enniskillen Royal GS Medallion 14 Ballymena Academy Medallion 27

A large crowd travelled to Dungannon to see an Enniskillen team compete in a Medallion Shield semi-final for the first time. The conditions were cold but dry and the pitch was perfect.
Ballymena kicked off with a reasonable wind to their backs. Enniskillen fielded it well and made a bright start, creating a couple of chances to score from long range.
Unfortunately Ballymena would score first though, after a series of forward drives their inside centre ran a strong line to crash over. Enniskillen fought back and took play to the opposition 22 but a penalty allowed Ballymena to kick long with the wind, resulting in a line out at the other end of the field, which they mauled to extend the lead.
Play then went back and forth before Ballymena took a quick lineout on half-way, despite the ball having been caught by a spectator and handed to the scrum-half. Unfortunately that was not spotted by the referee and was to be costly for Enniskillen.
Ballymena scored within a couple of phases from the lineout, with a series of ‘pick and goes’ near the line, after the scrum-half had made good ground down the touch line.
Undeterred, Callum Smyton, who was outstanding all game, caught the restart cleanly to put Ballymena on the back-foot. Mattie Graham took it on, Keys fed it inside to Gamble, who made yards, before White forced play to within 5m of the try-line. Smyton, was there to pick up and drive over and Keys converted, to leave the score 15-7 at half-time.
Turning around with the wind advantage, ERGS knew they were still in the game. Then came another key moment. Keys put up a high restart, which Smyton again caught cleanly, just outside the Ballymena 22. Unfortunately the referee deemed the catcher to have been in front of the kicker and awarded Ballymena a scrum on the half-way line.
However, video shows that Smyton was on-side. The swing was significant, as from the scrum Ballymena kicked deep into Enniskillen territory. The ball was cleared and from the line-out they mauled and then extended their lead to 20-7, following a series rucks.
Refusing to lie down and with enough time on the clock, Enniskillen won a penalty following the restart and kicked to the corner. Their line-out maul was pulled down and they opted for a scrum from the penalty. The scrum performed very well against much heavier and bigger opponents and was the platform for Smyton to beat four defenders and score. Keys converted to bring a win within a try and conversion.
From the kick-off Enniskillen were awarded another penalty and a Ballymena player was sin-binned for 5-minutes for persistent offending.
The last quarter of the game saw Ballymena players seek treatment at virtually every breakdown. 
This frustrated the Enniskillen players, allowed the heavier Ballymena players more recovery and a chance for the defence to get set. 
In any case, it made the last quarter of the game very disjointed.
Ballymena defended well, guarded possession when they had it and kicked Enniskillen back into their half when they could. Soon they were back to their full compliment and would score again.
It is a very good Ballymena side. They are more than just a big pack. They defended very well, took good options, choosing when to kick, take it up with the forwards or move it a bit wider to two very good centres. In particular, they retained possession in contact excellently, even against resolute and brave tackling, and yard by yard crept forward.
For the Enniskillen boys, it seemed crushingly disappointing but they will pick themselves up, as everyone has to do at same stage. Having previously beaten the other two semi-finalists, Campbell and Methody, they thoroughly deserved their place in the top four. They can also look back at four years of junior rugby in the school when they have sought out and played the very best teams, only failing to beat Blackrock at some stage.
Next up is the Ulster 7s on March 23 at Campbell College, and then the boys will move into senior rugby at the School, which is a significant milestone in their rugby development. They are a very talented group, with great attitude and should now re-focus towards what they can achieve in the next three years.
There is no reason why they can’t still get to Ravenhill!