Enniskillen 1st XV 27 CIYMS 1st XV 16

Enniskillen 1st XV produced a stellar performance to end their run of near misses and come away with a bonus point win against CIYMS at Mullaghmeen on Saturday.

And it was a display that delighted Head Coach Stevie Welsh who is hoping to push on up the table.

“I thought that the boys put in a great performance and we were very happy to get the bonus point and the win at home. Things are very tight in the middle of the table and a couple of wins would lift you towards the top four.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have another league game until December 29 when we are at home to Portadown but we will look to keep the momentum going when we play Ballynahinch in the Conference this week,” said Welsh.

Skins got off to a flying start as they put good phases of attack together from the restart and were awarded a penalty as the visitors began to creep offside. Lendrum duly kicked to touch and the resultant lineout was collected by James Carleton and the maul powered towards the try line, Gavin Warrington eventually picking from the back and sauntering over for a score, converted to go 7-0 up.

From the restart Skins gathered but a clearance kick was charged by the visitors and the ball sat up well for the CI backs who carved through the defence to set up deep in the Skins half. Enniskillen did well to defend on their own line and kept the visitors out but gave away a penalty in the process, allowing CI three points to keep themselves in the game.

CI continued to show their ability in the backline and looked dangerous from the next restart, again making a break in mid-field and bringing play into the Skins half. The narrow defence remained solid from Skins but the CI outhalf spotted an overlap out wide and opted for the cross field kick which hit the mark this time to put his winger away, unconverted to put them in the lead by 7-8.

CI continued to punish Skins out wide with another break from the backs to bring play within sight of the try line; then a kick through was fumbled on the five metre line as Skins hurried back under pressure and the visitors gathered it with ease to stumble over for their second try, unconverted to lead 7-13.

Enniskillen collected themselves now and put their defensive lapses behind them, pressuring the restart and forcing a kick from CI to regain possession. A series of carries from the forwards, now linking in seamlessly with the backs, wore the visitors down and an infringement at the ruck gave Skins the penalty. Finlay kicked to touch and Skins once again set up a maul and made for the line. CI did well to break the maul apart on this occasion and the Skins forwards began a series of pick and go’s that ended with Buchanan crossing the line for a score. An altercation and some handbags after the try led to the unusual occurrence of Nick Finlay converting the try before being immediately shown a yellow card and leaving the field, the score at 14-13.

It was evident Skins would have to battle hard now a man down to stop a reprisal from the visitors and all 14 stood up as CI worked their way deep into the Enniskillen half. A big hit only five metres out forced a knock on and Lendrum cleared from the resultant scrum. CI came knocking once again and Gavin Parke forced the winger into touch to gain another moment of relief and give Skins the line out.

With Enniskillen in possession once again it wasn’t long before the visitors gave away another penalty for offside and Skins set up a maul on half way that brought play almost to the 22 with a huge drive. Another penalty came and this time Skins opted for posts but the kick drifted wide, still not a bad outcome for Skins as Finlay returned to the pitch.

The 22’ drop out from CI went straight out and the Enniskillen scrum now smelled blood and gained five metres along with the penalty, not necessary in the end as the ball found the backs and Nick Finlay sliced through the defence to score, unconverted to make it 19-13.

Skins were rampant again from the restart, gaining two consecutive breakdown penalties from a frustrated CIYMS which allowed Finlay to slot three points and end the first half at 22-13.

The second half would prove to be a hard slog for Skins at times and much of it spent honing their defensive skills. Pinned in their own half for a while it required a big tackle count from the back row of Rutledge, Kelly and Carleton who ran themselves ragged, while John Arnold off the bench was in the thick of everything and did a lot to kill the visitor’s momentum. The counter attacking threat of Tyler Millar along with his back three partners O’Callaghan and Hoy provided huge relief for Enniskillen at times as CI tried a few probing kicks in behind the defence and Matty Dane found himself under the high ball often with solid results.

Turning over the opposition line-out Enniskillen looked threatening with the centre partnership of Finlay and O’Shea who brought play near the line but an accidental offside gave CI some relief. The line out stuttered with some good pressure from CI and they stole ball on the half to begin a long period of attack in the Skins half. A huge defensive effort came from the home side for what seemed like an age. Skins began to give away penalties and CI tried to push for a try but the Enniskillen scrum gave them little foundation to work from and they had to settle for a mere three points for their long spell inside the Skins 22’, leaving the scoreline 22-16.

Enniskillen had some good attacking ball to work with now and built their phases from the half way, carrying well and displaying excellent ball retention as they carried hard at the CI defence. After forcing the penalty Skins set up a lineout on the 22’ and made good ground from the maul before it broke down into another bout of pick and go’s. Eventually the ball went wide to Gavin Parke who forced his way through scrambling tacklers to touch down just inside the corner flag to claim the fourth try bonus point, unconverted to go 27-16 up.

CI responded immediately to work their way into the Skins half and desperate defence resumed. Skins repelled the first wave of attack forcing a crooked throw at the line out to then exit with the scrum, and again forced a knock-on in open play and won a penalty at the resultant scrum after a big drive from Warrington, Cathcart and Ferguson to end the period of CI pressure. Skins were quickly in the CI half again and mounted an attack; another big shove at the scrum with Dave Patton showing his worth off the bench in the front row forced the visitors back over their own line to mark the end of the contest.