Enniskillen put a difficult January behind them as they returned to winning ways on Saturday with a comfortable 27-6 win over Dungannon 2nd XV in the Towns’ Cup to set up an away meeting against Ards in the next round of the competition.

Skins coach Willie Gibson is hoping that his side have now put their rocky patch behind them and he is looking to push on again for the rest of the season.

“It was nice to get back to winning ways after a tough run of results. We went there expecting a difficult game but the boys played really well,” he said.

“The Towns’ Cup is always a competition the boys want to do well in and it would be nice to put together another run but we won’t look any further than Ards who are always tough to beat up there,” added Gibson.

It is back to league matters this week and a clash with table topper Instonians.

“They are the leaders and we were the last team to beat them but we will be looking to build on Saturday’s win and improve further. We want to start pushing on again.”

Things looked slicker from Skins at the offset and the improved weather conditions and excellent playing surface seemed to suit the side better than the slow, arduous games of previous weeks.

The scrum started well and improved throughout while the line out functioned flawlessly, making life easy for a back line that looked deadly with ball in hand against their Dungannon opposition. The forward pack were also much hungrier in defence and their improved intensity at the ruck, as well as a tenacious James Ferguson at scrum-half, made attacking play flow much more effectively.

Skins looked focused from the kick off and worked their way diligently into the Dungannon half. The home side were determined to make hard work of the breakdown, often illegally, and penalties began to come Enniskillen’s way which greatly helped the battle for territory.

Play came up to inside the 22’ after well worked play from the backs off a line out and the forwards carried to the line well before Captain David Buchanan spotted a gap on the blindside of the ruck, powering over to score in the corner, unconverted to go 5-3 up.

The referee struggled to achieve a stable scrum in the early period and Dungannon got the penalty early on following a collapse to kick for three points to stay on the visitors’ heels. From the restart Skins carried well through the back row of Johnston, Lee and Carleton to pressure the home side and Skins soon claimed another penalty that Lendrum slotted to go 8-3 up.

Dungannon tried to kick for territory in the following period but the counter attack from the back three of Balmer, Finlay and Baloucoune was devastating. Ferguson was ever threatening around the fringes at 9 and broke around the edge of the ruck just inside the Dungannon half and offloaded to Finlay who fed Baloucoune, the winger then cut through the home defence and utilised his raw pace to score under the posts, converted to go 15-3 up.

Skins continued to look comfortable heading towards the end of the first half and moved the ball wide with ease as the forwards linked in well with the backs. Another surge down the wing was well supported by the forwards and Cathcart improvised at scrum half to provide quick ball to Lendrum who hit Ashley Finlay on a perfect line through the Dungannon defence for another score under the posts, converted to go 22-3 up at half time.

The second half was a much more even contest as Dungannon seemed spurred on by their earlier poor showing The home side held onto the ball more earnestly now and a big defensive effort was asked of Enniskillen. The pack worked tirelessly to shut down some of the home side’s big ball carriers and Jack Harte was ever present with a high tackle count. Dungannon came away with one penalty from the pressure but didn’t really threaten the Skins line. Skins pressured the Dungannon line out well on occasion and Johnston got hands on innumerable overthrows at the tail to end attempts from the home side to build pressure. After weathering the storm for a period the front row turned over a Dungannon scrum on half way with a huge surge to regain possession. Some piercing back play and a line break from Alan Ferguson had Skins asking questions of Dungannon deep in their half yet again. The home side dealt well with Skins’ efforts to add to the try tally for the next while as they held off a few dominant scrums and close quarter carries. Eventually, as Skins tried to set up a maul from the line out on the five metre line, the home side stood off hoping to gain the penalty but Holden was quick to react and crossed the line for a try, unconverted to leave the final score 27-6.

This was a much improved performance from Enniskillen and a good reminder of their potential and they will be looking to build on it on Saturday away to Instonians in the league.