Grosvenor 7 Enniskillen 55

Enniskillen are four points clear at the top of the Championship One table following Saturday’s comprehensive 55-7 win away to Grosvenor.

Skins took control of matters from the outset and had secured a bonus point by the interval before pushing on in the second half to run out convincing victors.

Conditions were dry with a blustery cross wind, that was slightly against Skins in the first half. They received kick-off and quickly brought play to within five metres of the Grosvenor line, through a series of excellent box kicks by George Foster and strong forward carries, led by Neil and Jack Rutledge. Foster was standing in a scrum-half, rather than his normal full-back role, as regular 9, Mattie Dane, was out through injury.

The home side were penalised at a ruck and Skins opted to kick for the corner and a lineout, which they won and subsequently mauled towards the line. Angus Keys, who has transitioned from centre to wing-forward, drove over to open the scoring after five minutes. Eddie Keys converted.

Skins then repeated their exit from the kick-off and forced a Grosvenor knock-on just over half-way. A scrum penalty and a kick to touch by Keys resulted in a lineout on the Grosvenor 22, from which hooker Niall Keenan, made a break to set up a ruck within five metres of the line.

Henry Keys took it on but was held up, for a Grosvenor goal-line drop-out. Foster fielded the kick and set up a multi-phase attack which ended with Ben McLaren tearing down the left wing but being tackled into touch inside the Grosvenor 22.

Skins stole the ball at the front of the lineout. Angus Keys broke from the maul, set up a ruck, and the ball was moved wide to Sam Balfour on the right-wing. The forwards and Foster sniped at the sides of a series of rucks near the Grosvenor line, before the ball was spun wide to the opposite wing, for McLaren to cross for his first of two. A difficult conversion from the touchline was pushed wide.

Skins were moving the ball well between the forwards and also spinning it wide, one movement going through 17 pairs of hands and involving Foster seven times. Loosehead prop Andy Dane appeared at outside centre on a number of occasions and didn’t look out of place.

The third try was proving elusive though, until Neil Rutledge crashed over under the posts. This followed a Skins lineout on the Grosvenor 10 metre line, seven rucks and good line-breaks by Angus Keys, Jack Rutledge and Mattie Graham. Eddie Keys added the two points.

With five minutes of the half to go, Grosvenor were down to 14 men, after their right wing received a yellow-card for knocking forward an Enniskillen pass that would have given Ben McLaren a clear run in to the line.

The ensuing lineout was lost, but Grosvenor missed touch with their clearance. Eddie Keys fielded wide left and moved the ball infield to Hill, who passed to Ferguson and on to Balfour, before Harry Ingram took it to the line. A good tackle forced him onto his back and the ball wasn’t grounded.

From the drop-out, Jack Rutledge, Angus Keys and Keenan carried well, before the rucked ball on the right was transferred left. Mattie Graham pulled a pass back to Eddie Keys, who sent a long pass to Neil Rutledge, who flicked it on to Hill, who fed Henry Keys on the outside. The conversion, again from near the touchline, went just wide but brought the half to a close, with the bonus-point secured for scoring four tries.

Tim Harte and Reece Barrett entered the fray, with Harte playing his first league game. Both Skins wings were playing schoolboy rugby at ERGS last season and both would score a brace of tries in the game.

However, it was Angus Keys who would open the scoring in the second half, as he had done in the first, with another effort from close to the line. Then it was Ben McLaren, who beat a number of defenders from the Grosvenor 22, for a fine solo effort, after a series of very good handling phases by the Skins’ forwards. Keys added the conversion.

Skins were mostly running any ball they got now, making good ground and looking dangerous when they did.

Gary Thornton was on in the second row and would finish the game at tight-head. The tackling machine that is Oisin Timoney was then very unlucky to be yellow-carded for one that was deemed to be a high.

Grosvenor continued to play but the Skins defence was holding firm with 14 men, but Grosvenor did eventually score from close range, after a penalty allowed them to get to within five metres of the Skins’ line. They added the conversion.

Skins hit back and were soon on the attack again, Ferguson releasing Harte on the left wing, who was stopped just short and bundled into touch. Enniskillen stole the lineout though, Angus Keys and Gary Thornton made good ground, before the ball went wide for Sam Balfour to score in the right corner. Keys made the conversion.

Then came the first of Harte’s two tries. Ferguson had carried deep into the centre of the Grosvenor 22, and Eddie Keys whipped a long miss-pass directly to the left wing, who nearly had his head taken off by the cover tackle, as he squeezed into the left corner.

The best was still to come, with the final play of the game. From the restart, a ruck was set up on the Skins 22, a kick-pass from Keys was collected by Balfour on the right touchline, on halfway.

He made ground before feeding man-of the match Harry Ingram, who in turn off-loaded to Harte, who had come around from the left wing, to sprint in from just outside the 22. Keys knocked over the conversion and the final whistle went.