Enniskillen ERGS Medallion 10 Cambridge House Medallion 17 Enniskillen Royal made their exit from the Medallion Shield on Saturday when they were beaten 17-10 at Cambridge House.

The Enniskillen side went into the game as underdogs and although they lost out by seven points they can take great heart from their performance and also the progress that they have made in recent months.

Despite Cambridge House being favourites, Enniskillen Royal went into the game with some impressive recent results and they knew they were capable of causing an upset.

The conditions were unfavourable with the ground mucky and heavy underfoot and combined with squally rain showers, this was always going to be a war of attrition fought out between the two packs.

ERGS’s forwards edged the opening exchanges and it wasn’t long before Morton made a telling break but unfortunately a Cambridge House hand prevented the final pass going to hand. Smyton then exerted pressure on the opposition outhalf and his charge down almost resulted in a score. Cambridge then made an excursion into the Enniskillen 22 and a poor pass allowed the Ballymena based side to hack through and win the race to touch down and open the scoring. With a successful conversation ERGS were 7-0 down after only eight minutes.

Enniskillen then took control of the game and with the back row of Rooney, Smyton and Gauley tackling anything that moved and the impressive second row pairing of Carnduff and Rutledge rucking like men possessed, ERGS pack was edging the battle upfront. A number of indiscretions allowed Cambridge House to extend their lead when they spread the ball wide and their left winger touched down.

Enniskillen were now 12-0 down and a lesser side may have crumbled, however they are made of sterner stuff and it was only a matter of time before they responded. Balfour made a telling break and having slipped a tackle he fed Smyton, who like any good back row forward, was in support and with much to do the young flanker broke tackle after tackle and crossed the line to leave the score 12-5.

Cambridge House increased their lead towards the end of the first half, their centre Curtis Henry made a telling break, he was eventually hauled down but managed to feed his outhalf who wrong footed the Enniskillen defence to leave it 17-5 at half time.

ERGS had the advantage of playing downhill in the second half and it wasn’t long before they got another score on the board, clever kicking by scrumhalf Bothwell put the ball behind the ‘House’ defence, ERGS chased hard and good work at the breakdown resulted in Morton crashing over the white wash to reduce the deficit to seven points.

As the game entered the final quarter Cambridge House again attacked through their big centre but Fraser was up to the challenge and he produced a tremendous try saving tackle.

The game was now being played at a frantic pace with the Fermanagh lads’ time spent in the gym now paying dividends, they camped in the oppositions 22. Great carries by Crawford, Phair and the highly impressive White stretched the Cambridge defence but they stayed strong. Time and again the ERGS pack battered the opposition as they looked for the ever important score that would potentially tie the game. However, Cambridge House were allowed to continually stray offside, this mitigated the Enniskillen efforts and eventually to the home side’s relief the referee blew his whistle to end the contest.

Although disappointed with the result the Enniskillen Royal players should take great heart from this performance. Under coaches Kennedy and Keys the players have bought into a new regime including early morning training sessions and extra time spent on the training paddock. The introduction of a very talented group of under 14 players has been hugely influential, their winning mentality and never say die attitude has also greatly benefited the team. This side can now look forward to their game against either Bangor Grammar or Ballymena Academy in the quarter final of the Medallion Bowl. On the basis of this performance they should fear no one.