Cooke 1st XV 20 Enniskillen 1st XV 20

When Cooke scored an equalising try and conversion in the last play of Saturday’s match, their team and supporters celebrated as though they had won.

It must have seemed like it as they had been under the cosh from Enniskillen during the entirety of the second half of the match in Belfast.

Known as one of the stronger teams in the league, Cooke kicked off and took play deep into the Enniskillen half. Although Matty Dane found a good touch, Cooke won the lineout and moved the ball left and right before scoring a converted try after five minutes.

Skins hit back immediately, regaining the kick-off and playing through several phases, including an impressive ruck clear out by Reece Barrett, before Eddie Keys kicked to the corner for Sam Balfour to collect and score an unconverted try.

From the restart it was the visiting team which was more energised.

Following a penalty Skins created a field position and a good piece of continuity play saw carries by Henry Keys and Sam Balfour before an offload to Jack Rutledge saw the big flanker crossing for a converted try.

Unfortunately, Skins allowed Cooke to come back and conceded a penalty which was converted to make it 12-10 after 16 minutes.

Better was to come when Cooke firstly knocked on and then conceded a penalty which was kicked to the corner. After a good throw, Enniskillen executed a perfect maul for Henry Keys to score a third try to increase the score to 17-10 after 21 minutes.

The momentum was with the visitors at that stage but a combination of good Cooke defence and bad luck prevented any further scoring by Skins.

One bonus for the Skins was how their scrum was holding up against the Cooke behemoths.

Enniskillen maintained pressure and, following a Keys 50-22, and a strong sequence of interplay by the forwards, looked like they would add a fourth try and a bonus point, only for the last pass to go down, with the line beckoning.

Both sides exchanged penalties to leave the half-time score 20-13 to the visitors.

In the second half the abiding impression was of Skins dominance of territory and possession.

The visitors dominance of the scrums was impressive, particularly after the introduction of Andy Dane who gave his opposite number a torrid time.

Just as it seemed that Enniskillen must score, an infringement intervened and kept Cooke in the game, knowing that one score would level the match.

Although suffering in the scrums, Cooke had an excellent lineout and their midfield defence was solid.

At the very end of the match, Cooke, aided by a number of penalties won a last scrum close to the Enniskillen line and somehow forced their way over the visitors line to draw the match.

While the home side deserve credit for never giving up, Enniskillen will feel that their two points should have been five.

Credit to Skins for a performance which involved a solid scrum and plenty of carrying and movement, against a strong side. It was also positive to see Angus Keys returning for a good shift of 30 minutes and Ben McClaren make his 1st XV debut, following his hat-trick of tries for the 2nds last week.

This young side is a ‘work in progress’. As in previous games there were too many penalties for the coach’s liking. One felt as well that if the forwards could stay on their feet just a little bit longer, scores would inevitably come.

This a very competitive league a draw away to Cooke is a very creditable result. Next up is a home tie against CIYMS.