After a pleasing bonus point win over Lisburn last Saturday Enniskillen 1st XV were brought harshly down to earth at the weekend with a 23-8 defeat to Randalstown in their second league game of the season.
The pack started well and it seemed initially that the long trek to the County Antrim town had little effect on the side as powerful carrying from David Taylor and the forwards gained good momentum and led to a penalty attempt which Nick Finlay slotted over with ease to gain the lead.
The opposing back line replied immediately with a counter attack to a probing kick from Nick Finlay; running from deep in their own half, two of the Randalstown backs glided through a scattered skins defence to score a fairly effortless try and take the lead.
The Randalstown full back and wing combination continued to threaten Enniskillen out wide and made generous yards with every counter attack, but the defence held up well and weathered the storm before responding soon after with a score from Jamie Johnston off a well executed line out and maul.
However, more evasive running from the opposition back line was poorly dealt with by the Enniskillen defence and once again a run which began in the Randalstown half ended with a try under the posts for the Randalstown inside centre.
The second half was more positive from Enniskillen with the defensive effort much improved, but the attack was still struggling to gain any ground, with handling errors disrupting numerous attempts to put some effective phases together.
Enniskillen showed glimpses of good play in the latter stages but never maintained the pressure long enough to convert their chances and Randalstown managed one more agonising try in the corner in the dying minutes to end the contest.
To Randalstown’s credit their defence was tenacious and they did well to neutralise the Enniskillen attack who enjoyed a good share of possession. The scrum was a fairly balanced contest throughout, and the line out also functioned well with David Buchanan, Richard Grey and Michael Cadden all providing good ball from Steven Fox’s throw.
The absence of Ashley Finlay was notable from last week’s performance, both in the threat level of the back line as well as in the defensive capabilities against Randalstown’s formidable back three combination, but there were positives too as Patrick McCleery had a solid game playing out of position on the wing.
Enniskillen get another opportunity to find their away form as they play Malone Second XV in Belfast in the first round of the Junior Cup this Saturday.
Enniskillen Second XV have a weekend off after a very one sided defeat to Portadown at the weekend while the Third XV head to Clogher Valley RFC to take on their local rivals.
Disappointed in defeat
Captain Jamie Johnston was clearly disappointed after the defeat but maintains they’re on the right track, with simply some fine tuning required.
“A bit of a disappointing scoreline, but I don’t feel the score fairly reflects how close and hard fought the game was. The whole game was a bit of an arm wrestle between the two packs with each enjoying periods of dominance.
“What let us down ultimately were missed tackles, some loose kicking and poor kick chase, Randalstown had a dangerous back three who counter-attacked effectively for all of their tries.
“Positives from the game are an improved set piece and anytime we entered the Randalstown red zone we came away with points, also when we put our phases together we made good inroads with big ball carries from our forward pack. There are a few works ons for training this week but we will not be making massive adjustments.”
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