Enniskillen Royal GS Medallions 15 Foyle College Medallion 5

Enniskilen Royal Grammar produced a determined display as they overcame Foyle College at Rainey Endowed on Saturday to claim the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Trophy.

Having had a disheartening season, riddled with injury and hard fought losses, the last three months of hard work and dramatic improvement had allowed the ERGS boys to fight their way through the heats, quarter and semi finals to earn themselves a chance to end their schools’ junior rugby adventure on a high, playing the team they started against three years ago at U13 level.

From the kick off the ERGS boys immediately put Foyle under pressure, asserting themselves on the game and hammering at the Foyle line through strong running and well rehearsed set piece plays.

As the forwards carried wide into the 10-12 channel, offloading in contact and keeping the ball alive, it was only ten minutes before No.8 Guobys crashed towards the line stretching his arms over his head to gain the first five points of the game.

The inclement weather made the kick a near impossible feat for Owen but the boys had laid down a marker of things to come.

Minutes later the ERGS boys were threatening again but this time through the back line.

As the forwards successfully recycled the ball though three phases, it was No.10 Love who called the infamous ‘blocker’ move to see centre Irvine come across on a convincing dummy run whilst fellow centre Harron stepped the first defender and then chipped over to the flying full back Ingram, who took the ball on the full and then offloaded post contact to winger Owen. Unfortunately the conditions meant the ball slipped through his hands and into touch just metres from the line.

The first half continued to see both sides create chances but repeatedly hindered by the wind and rain which forced frustrating mistakes.

As the second half commenced it was Foyle who opened the scoring with an excellent passage of play seeing a great opportunistic offload from their talented fullback, allowing their number 10 to accelerate around the defensive line and touch down to the far right of the posts.

Again the increasingly unpleasant conditions prevented the successful conversion, 5-5.

This was the wake-up call that ERGS needed and they started once again to dominate play through solid work by the forwards.

Read’s line-out throwing was outstanding, as locks Browne and Kathro sailed into the air to collect and distribute clean ball to captain McConkey.

The impressive work rate of the flankers Johnston-Martin, Smyton and Elliott, meant that the ball was sealed off at each breakdown whilst punch running from front rows Cullinan, Read, Bagrev and Clarke constantly challenged the resilient Foyle defence.

It was the ERGS scrummage which then became Foyle’s nemesis; repeatedly pushing the trailing side off their own ball, it wasn’t long before Guobys struck again with a quick pickup and charge over the line, 10-5.

The recent months of gym work and fitness training now began to pay off as the ERGS boys maintained their momentum for the remaining quarter of the game.

As Owen was forced to leave the field after a high tackle, Johnston got his opportunity to boss the defensive line and close the door on any Foyle advance mirrored on the other side of the park by Smith’s aggressive tackling.

In the dying minutes ERGS found themselves back in the Foyle 22 and as they tried to clear their lines with a box kick it was Guobys who lept in front of the kicker for an impressive charge-down and collect scoring his hat trick, 15-5.

With only minutes to go, it was now just a case of closing out the game and the two remaining substitutes Bloomfield and Pattison got onto the pitch to mark their equally tremendous involvement in the journey through the last four seasons of school rugby, cheered on by a proud but frustrated Weir who’s pre semi-final shoulder dislocation which kept him on the bench but still firmly involved.

This squad with their coaches Beddard, Pattison and Harron understood the need to dig deep again and again, in the ground of failure. By doing that with determination and resolve, they have found huge success and are now the holders of the Trophy which they brought home to Enniskillen Royal Grammar School on Saturday.