Enniskillen 29 Portadown 8

It was a testament to John McLaughry and his ground staff that last Saturday’s Towns’ Cup match against Portadown went ahead and as it transpired, conditions were better than expected.

Angus Keys made a welcome return to the centre with Daire Hill, Ben McLaren retained his place on the wing and Andy Dane continued his run at Tight Head prop, with a Player of the Match performance.

It was the visitors who showed that they had come to play. Following a kick at goal that went wide Portadown were the beneficiaries of a somewhat puzzling decision by the referee and from a five metre scrum, from which they moved the ball and breached the Skin’s defence. Enniskillen regrouped and took play deep into the visiting half, creating an overlap on the left, on the Portadown 22. As the ball was being passed away from a ruck it was disrupted by the defence and hacked downfield. Niall Keenan and Ben McLaren chased back to prevent a second try.

Portadown did increase their lead to 8-0, with a penalty shortly after.

Skins then settled and improved the accuracy of their execution. On 25 minutes Keenan opened their account from a lineout maul, following a kick to the corner from a penalty.

The pack repeated the feat five minutes later, with the hooker going over for his second. As the first half came to a close Skins were gaining some momentum and starting to play some good rugby. Quick ball at a ruck was moved to McLaren, who finished well, evading two defenders to score in the corner. The strong wind had foiled each of the conversions but the three try blitz saw Skins lead 15-8 at the break.

Skins now had what directional advantage there was from the wind, though it was mainly across the field, and they were soon in the Portadown 22 after the restart.

They scored again with a fine individual effort by Henry Keys from the base of the scrum, scoring near the posts. This time twin brother Eddie converted.

The visitors were proving stubborn opponents and they refused to capitulate. A solid lineout allowed them to launch a number of attacks, particularly through their out-half and full-back. It took a good steal of the ball by George Foster to turn the tide and an excellent move by the entire team saw Hill cross to score a converted try on 60 minutes.

There were no further scores but Portadown continued to seek to play running rugby and the Enniskillen defence had to be alert. Andy Dane had another impressive shift against a much bigger opponent and Matty Dane’s box kicking caused Portadown plenty of trouble.There is plenty to admire about this young team but as the matches get tougher it will be important to sustain the effort over 80 minutes.

Next week Skins resume their league campaign with a home match against Dromore. Kick-off at 2.30pm.