Enniskillen 1st XV 6 Clogher Valley 1st XV 28

Clogher Valley made it two wins out of two in Championship Division One as they took the derby spoils at Mullaghmeen on Saturday - but they didn’t have things all their own way as Skins produced a more improved performance from their defeat to CIYMS a week earlier.

Stevie Welsh’s young side showed plenty of heart against the side who are probably league favourites this season.

Skins took the lead after an exemplary defensive effort to keep the visitors out and had the game in the balance right until the final 30 minutes of the contest where a clinical Clogher ran in three tries against a Skins side who had been forced to play a bit too much rugby in their own half.

Skins head coach Stevie Welsh felt that the performance was a step in the right direction after the loss to CIYMS the previous week.

“It was definitely a step up, the performance was great and I could fault the effort of the lads, it was ferocious,” he said.

However, he acknowledges that Clogher deserved to win the game.

“It was disappointing not to get any points, I thought we at deserved a bonue point but we didn’t threaten their line enough to win the game and that’s somehting we will have to work on.”

He is though hoping that they can go on and secure that first win of the season this Saturday against Carrickfergus.

“As much as I was pleasesd with the performance last week, I don’t like losing and we now need to start picking up points.

“Carrick is a difficult place to go to but training has been going well and hopefully we can bring that through into the game on Saturday,” he added.

Enniskillen made it very clear from the outset, that any ground they gave to their neighbours Clogher Valley would be hard fought.

The home side resisted an initial surge with fantastic defence on their own line from the back row of Carleton, Timoney and Johnson Martin, turning the ball over to relieve the pressure. Skins then went on the attack, eventually claiming a penalty within range for Eddie Keys to put them in the lead, 3-0.

Sam Balfour at fullback took the restart well and countered but Skins struggled to kick out of their half in wet conditions, eventually a slipped tackle in midfield saw space open up for Reece Smyton who sprinted the 40 metres to score under the posts. David Maxwell added the extras to make it 7-3 to Clogher.

Skins responded well and carries from Neil Rutledge and Matthew Graham put them on the front foot but the home side found it difficult to sustain momentum as some scrappy ball at the ruck led to pressure and errors in attack.

The defensive effort couldn’t be faulted, however, and Skins spent most of the second quarter defending inside their 22, somehow keeping the scoreline at 3-7 going into half time.

The second half started positively - a knock on from the restart led to a scrum which Skins consequently earned a penalty, Eddie Keys slotting another kick from just inside the 10 metre line to bring the scoreline to 7-6.

A knock on in midfield shortly afterwards and a clever kick from Clogher suddenly had Skins defending deep in their half yet again for an exhausting 10 minute spell of goal line defence.

The returning Jack Harte and Gary Thornton working tirelessly against a well organised attack while Daire Hill at 12 was solid in marshalling the defensive line throughout. Still Skins failed to exit well and a dominant Valley scrum led to another penalty. This drove the visitors closer to the Enniskillen try line, Smyton broke from the base of the scrum and set up a ruck. The visitors attacked, wave after wave until Enniskillen ran out of defenders and Aaron Dunwoody drove over. David Maxwell added the conversion points and the Valley led 14-6.

Skins attacked well for a period now and half backs Paul McConkey and George Foster moved the ball well in tricky conditions.

Again penalties and handling errors ended their efforts and well chosen kicks from Clogher had Skins back defending their line yet again.

A cross field kick from Valley’s David Maxwell bounced around for a few seconds before scrum half, Matthew Bothwell gathered and scampered in to score a try in the corner. David Maxwell added the extra points with a brilliant touch line conversion kick and the Valley led 21-6.

Skins repelled one Clogher venture into their 22 and returned to pressure the Clogher five metre shortly afterwards, but failed to come away with a score.

Clogher continued to exploit the conditions well with another kick in behind Skins which had them defending their line yet again, and several recycles later the visitors through David Stinson drove over for a fourth and bonus point try. Maxwell added the conversion to give the Valley a 28-6 win.

It was an excellent defensive display from Enniskillen with glimpses of their attacking ability.

They lacked the execution and gamesmanship of Clogher at times which is a mark of the youth of the side but something that will undoubtedly improve as the season continues.

Skins head to Carrickfergus this weekend, a difficult place to go but they’ll be keen to pick up precious league points.

Clogher will be aiming to build on their good start to the campaign when they take on Dromore at the Cran on Saturday.