Enniskillen 1st XV 13 Ballyclare 1st XV 6

Enniskillen 1st XV warmed up for a crunch New Year’s Eve tie against Omagh with an excellent 13-6 victory at Mullaghmeen against a physical Ballyclare side.
It was a return to winning ways for Skins and coach Willie Gibson says that they are delighted to be sitting second in the table at Christmas.
“We had slipped up twice in a row but we played well on Saturday and we were back to full strength. We had been aiming for top six so we are four places ahead of that which is pleasing,” said Gibson.
Next up is two games against local rivals and title contenders Omagh.
“Obviously, they are games that we would like to win but if we don’t it isn’t the be all and end all. They will be tough games and they will be entertaining,” he said.
Ballyclare looked set for a physical contest from the outset on Saturday and carried hard at the Enniskillen defensive line with the visitors pinning back Skins for the first 10 minutes. 
The consistent possession for Ballyclare wrought rewards early on as Skins captain David Buchanan saw a yellow card for attempting to turn over ball at the ruck, and a resultant three point penalty for Ballyclare saw them take an early lead.
The response of the home side was fantastic in this respect as they came back at Ballyclare. 
The forwards made good ground with ball in hand and the counter attack from the back three, particularly Robert Baloucoune at full back, severely blunted the kicking threat from the ‘Clare out half. 
Skins now began to dominate territory as the visitors became pinned back in their own half and were unable to gain any respite as their set piece struggled. Holden and Carleton hounded the opposition line out while the front row of Ferguson/Fox, Cathcart and Beatty were in the ascendency. 
The pressure began to tell as Ballyclare began to give away numerous penalties in their own half for breakdown infringements and then illegal attempts to disrupt the Skins maul. as the home side looked to cross the whitewash. John Maguire duly converted two penalties in the first half to restore morale, and as Buchanan returned to the field the Ballyclare side’s discipline waned and they dropped to 13 men late in the first half.
The visitors admirably held Skins out for a long period but, after a good break from James Ferguson, Skins exhibited strong ball retention and continued to attack the ‘Clare line before swift hands out wide found James Carleton who crossed for a try, excellently converted by Maguire to leave the score 13-3.
In the second half, Ballyclare restored their numbers and gave everything to turn the very tight contest. 
Enniskillen had to absorb a lot of pressure in their own half. and put on a stellar defensive display, along with industrious work from the forwards to disrupt the opposition set piece Conor Keys on his debut carried out his defensive duties extremely well at inside centre, and despite a long period of pressure Ballyclare never really looked like crossing the Enniskillen line. 
Some ill discipline at the breakdown and instances offside in defence gave Ballyclare a few opportunities at goal during this period but, fortunately for Skins, two were to drift wide and only one found it’s mark to reduce the deficit 13-6. Enniskillen did still have some decent periods of attack and Ashley Finlay excellently collected a box kick to almost cross the line but Ballyclare covered back well to thwart the attempt and an eventual knock on ended the fixture.