Cooke 1XV 25 Enniskillen 1XV 15

It was another case of opportunities missed for Enniskillen 1st XV last weekend as Skins slipped to a 25-15 defeat to Cooke at Shaw’s Bridge.

Enniskillen started well and dominated the contest in many facets of the game but hampered themselves with ill discipline and attempts to force the game at times.

Playing against the breeze, Skins took an early lead through a Mark O’Shea try but Cooke responded to lead 10-5 at half time and the home team increased that to 25-8 in the second half.

Jamie Kelly did cross for a Skins try which was converted by Nick Finlay but despite pressing hard in the latter stages they could not add to their tally as Cooke finished up victors.

The Skins pack were rampant from the outset with the line out proving solid through Parke, Buchanan and Rutledge despite wet and windy conditions, providing a good base for the maul which looked unstoppable at times.

This set the foundation for an early score from centre Mark O’Shea who broke through the line for an unconverted score to take the visitors to 0-5.

Skins continued to put a lot of pressure on Cooke in their own half but small errors just as they looked sure to cross the whitewash gave the home side relief on many occasions.

Then Skins conceded a penalty in their own half that allowed Cooke to come back to 3-5. Cooke capitalised on a rare venture into the Skins half when a lapse in defence allowed the opposition scrum half to evade numerous tackles for a soft but impressive individual try, converted to now lead 10-5. Then just before half-time Jamie Kelly saw a fairly harsh yellow card for a clash with an opposition player at the breakdown, leaving Skins trailing by five points and a man down at the half.

The second half had Skins with the wind at their backs but Cooke looked more composed and held onto possession much better in attack. The Cooke backline had plenty of pace and they moved the ball well to their winger who scored in the corner early in the second half, Skins now trailing 15-5. Enniskillen gathered themselves and worked their way down into the Cooke half. Retaining the ball well through the pack Skins were awarded a penalty and reduced the deficit to 15-8 through Nick Finlay. Again this work was undone as Cooke claimed a penalty shortly afterwards when the Enniskillen backs, who were starting to put some good phases together through Ferguson and O’Shea, were then penalised for crossing, the home side resuming a 10 point lead.

Despite having the wind Skins found themselves constantly in their own half due to penalties and errors. A scrum deep in the Enniskillen half gave the home side the platform they needed and the Cooke fullback came into the line at pace and broke through for a score, converted to lead 25-8.

Skins to their credit refused to lie down and played with more composure now as the game looked beyond them. Holding onto the ball they forced a penalty and set up a maul deep in the Cooke half that ended with Jamie Kelly crossing for a try, converted by Finlay to bring Skins to 25-15. Opportunities were there for Skins in the final quarter and Cooke were feeling the pressure as they incurred two yellow cards in the final stages but the home side did well to hold Skins out and the fixture ended 25-15.

Enniskillen continue to look like a very able side but seem to suffer from a lack of patience and focus at times which causes them to struggle to close out games; the raw ability, however, is definitely there. The 1st XV have no game this Saturday.