Enniskillen 1st XV booked their place in the final of the River Rock Towns’ Cup for a second year in a row as they produced a superb performance to beat Armagh 2ndXV 36-5 at Mullaghmeen on Saturday.

Skins suffered disappointment at Kingspan Stadium in last Easter Monday’s final but they will be hoping to go one better this time around when they take on Ballynahinch 2nd XV.

“It is great for the club and the players to be back in another final,” said Skins Head Coach Willie Gibson. “It will be another big day for everybody at the club and hopefully we can learn the lessons from last year and we’ll be looking to make a better start than we did that day. The boys will be keen to go on and win it this year but we know that Ballynahinch will not be easy.”

On his side’s performance on Saturday, Gibson added: “It was a very good display against a very dangerous Armagh side. Our defence was key, the pressure we put on them was vital and the boys worked really hard.”

The conditions were fantastic and seemed to suit this Skins side whose mobile forward pack and pacy back line looked to be in their element. From the kick off the Enniskillen defence was extremely determined and caused problems for Armagh who struggled to make much ground in attack and let errors creep into their game. The in form Skins scrum punished these mistakes and helped dominate the territorial battle. Claiming an early penalty from the scrum, out-half Adam Lendrum kicked to touch to set up a line out inside the Armagh 22 metre line. The line out was deemed not straight but the resultant scrum was stolen against the head by Enniskillen and, following some short range carries from the pack, back row Jamie Johnston broke the line and crossed for a score left of the posts, converted by Lendrum to go 7-0 up.

Armagh struggled to find an effective platform now following the restart as Skins’ Kaine Holden and Gavin Parke disrupted their line out and the scrum remained in the home side’s favour. A Skins line out and maul on the half way made good ground and the ball went wide to the backs; Matthew Balmer on the wing chipped a ball through and Ashley Finlay showed his footballing skills as he dribbled the ball along and gathered to cross the try line, unconverted to go 12-0 up.

Another try came shortly afterwards in similar fashion as the continued tenacity of the Skins defence caused problems for the visitors. As Armagh sent the ball wide following some probing carries from the forwards, the determined defensive press from Enniskillen forced a knock on from the Armagh backs and Balmer tapped it on and gathered to cross for another score, converted for a 19-0 lead approaching the end of the half.

Going into the second half the fixture remained a good contest as Armagh continued compete in open play. The Armagh forwards carried well and their scrum half was a constant threat around the fringes but the Enniskillen defence remained resolute throughout, the forwards working diligently around the ruck while Michael Law and James Ferguson’s centre partnership reorganised the line with precision. After a long period of defending in their own half Enniskillen reclaimed possession and Lendrum kicked long to bring play back into Armagh’s half. The back line stretched their legs once again as the ball went wide to the impressive winger Robert Baloucoune who exhibited some rapid pace to finish under the posts with apparent ease, converted to bring proceedings to 26-0.

Armagh showed their worth now as they put pressure on Enniskillen from the restart and forced a penalty from the home side at the breakdown. Setting up a line out inside the Enniskillen 22’, Armagh gained some yards through the maul before moving the ball wide and finally finding a gap in the defence after some hard carries to get on the scoreboard, unconverted to reduce the deficit to 26-5.

Enniskillen remained focused and kept the ball tight from the restart. Carries from Gareth Beatty and Richard Willis wore down the Armagh defence and an eventual penalty at the breakdown allowed Lendrum to add three points to Skins’ lead.

Armagh pinned Enniskillen back in their own half yet again from the restart but a fantastic break from outside centre James Ferguson 70 metres out had him cross the line under the posts for a great solo effort to leave the final score 36-5.

There were plenty of glimpses throughout of Armagh’s ability that demonstrated their deserved place in the semi-final but the home side were unquestionably hungry in the encounter, giving a relentless 80 minute performance built on a solid set piece, well organised defence and some dangerous runners in the back line. With the league wrapped up, Enniskillen now prepare for their Easter Monday Cup Final encounter against Ballynahinch 2nd XV in search of their first Towns’ Cup Victory since 1937.