ERGS 1st XV 40 Dungannon Royal 1st XV 10

ERGS 1st XV made it two wins out of two in Group F in the Schools’ Cup with another emphatic victory, this time over Dungannon at Eisenhower Playing Fields on Saturday.

The home side dominated from the start and went in at the break with a 26-3 lead and they went on to run out 40-10 winners to leave them sitting pretty at the top of the table.

“It was a super performance,” said coach Ashley Finlay. “The boys did exactly what we asked of them. They started the game with great intensity and got early scores on the board and never really let up.”

ERGS next game is away to a Larne side who have suffered two heavy defeats to date so the Enniskillen school will be expected to finish with a 100 per cent record and Finlay feels that the new group format has served them well.

“It has worked really well for us in that it has allowed us to set interim targets and we have achieved those with bonus point wins while it has also kept the boys focused,” he added.

Dungannon opened the scoring inside the first minute with an excellent 37 metre penalty from their out half, Jack Girvan, but ERGS went on to take control and hit back quickly when prop, Aaron Crawford. bulldozed his way across the line.

A snipe from scrum half, Matthew Bothwell, had brought ERGS to within five metres and when they opted for a scrum instead of kicking for three points there was no doubting their ambition. A quick pick by no.8, Callum Smyton, a deft off load to his backrow colleague, David Stinson, followed by a pod of Crawford and his fellow prop, Matthew Graham, was too much for the Dungannon defence. Out half, Eddie Keys slotted the conversion.

For the next 10 minutes Enniskillen forced their opponents to play in their own half. Dungannon were under relentless pressure and Smyton turned that dominance into points when he broke through six tackles to score ERGS’s second try. Keys sent the conversion high over the posts for the extra two points.

The home side were dominating both line outs and scrums so there was little respite for the visitors and another try was not long in coming. ERGS’s full back, the affable Stuart Brown, displaying great speed and agility, cut through the Dungannon defence and made a 35 metre dash to score in the corner. Keys converted from the touch line to give ERGS an18 point lead.

Despite this deficit Dungannon battled on and had their best period of the match. Although they achieved substantial territorial gain they didn’t present any real threat to the Enniskillen try line and once ERGS had absorbed all the visitors had to offer the play moved back to Dungannon’s 22 metre zone. Crawford crossed the line, once again, but the ball was deemed to have been held up and ERGS had to wait another couple of minutes before Stinson, well supported by centre, Stephen Balfour, forced his way over. Keys pushed his conversion a metre wide of the right hand upright for a rare miss and the half finished with Enniskillen in the lead by 26-3.

The second half continued with ERGS in control and far enough ahead on the scoreboard to start bringing on their bench. Dungannon made a brief surge while the subs settled in, but Enniskillen were soon threatening once again. A delicate inside pass from Keys to the team’s top try scorer, Sam Balfour, took ERGS to within a metre of the visitor’s try line and when powerful lock Neil Rutledge picked and dived full length for the line very little that was going to stop him. Keys made good the conversion, once again.

Despite the changes, the pace and fluency of ERGS’s play remained consistent as did their considerable ambition. Former amongst those driving that ambition was Smyton who smashed his way between a prop and hooker to sprint 40 metres to the line. Keys converted and ERGS emptied their bench.

A few minutes later came an unfortunate moment for Enniskillen when the referee handed Brown a red card for a late tackle on Dungannon centre, James Girvan. The video replay, which was not available to the referee, may well prompt Head Coach, Ashley Finlay, to ask for a review of what seems to have been a harsh decision. In the dying minutes of the match the visitors took advantage of the extra man to drive their robust loose head prop, Adam McFarland, over the line for his team’s only try of the match. Out half, Girvan, kicked an excellent conversion and the game finished 40-10.

With this comfortable win Enniskillen virtually guarantee themselves a place in the Schools Cup last 16. They have one final Pool game on December 7 away to Larne. In the meantime, there are two appetising home games coming up, Sullivan Upper on November 23 and old rivals, Campbell, on November 30.

Against Dungannon, ERGS were clinical and relentless. Their recent matches against high level opposition have also added a physical toughness to their game but there is still room for improvement in their off-loading game. Many players went to ground without looking for the opportunity to keep the ball alive, or, looking and not finding anyone in support. An improvement in this area could raise their game to an even higher level.