Played in light drizzle in Dungannon, this game was unlikely to match Leinster’s performance on Friday night for excitement but Enniskillen ground out a well deserved victory and provided a little entertainment at the same time.
For the first few minutes, Dungannon’s capable full back kept ERGS inside their 22m line with accurate kicking until inside centre, Robbie Mills, broke out of defence. He made his way up field before off-loading out of the tackle to supporting winger Stewart Brown who, in turn, off-loaded to the ubiquitous Callum Smyton. Smyton carried brought play up close to the Dungannon line where the visitors remained using forward drives until hooker, Ryan Phair, supported by lock John Allan, drove over for a try under the posts. Out-half Eddie Keys slotted a simple conversion.
The home side came back with a sustained attack running through a number of phases. While they showed good skill in holding onto a slippery ball they did not have the power or footwork to break through a strong ERGS defence and, once again, the visitors broke free, this time through their outside centre and captain, Alex Parke. The sides swopped penalties and handling errors before Allan sacked the Dungannon fullback as he was trying to clear his line. The ERGS pack ran through some controlled phases of play before releasing Smyton to push through and cross the try line. The referee awarded a try but then decided it was “held up”. A smattering of descent from the ERGS pack earned them a penalty and they were obliged to work their way up field again, which they did with great patience, before Smyton got the chance to finish the job crashing through for a try. Keys converted but from a more difficult angle this time.
With a 14 point lead Keys sensibly reverted to kicking for position which he did with great accuracy. Dungannon had another period of good possession but as before, they failedto make any progress or turn pressure into points so the half finished 14 points to nil in favour of Enniskillen.
Early in the second half the ERGS backs strayed off side and Dungannon converted a penalty to put their first points on the board. The visitors played a mixture of accurate kicking and forward pods in which flanker, David Stinson, and lock, Neil Rutledge, featured prominently. An excellent break from replacement full back, Jack O’Hare, brought ERGS up to the Dungannon try line where the irrepressible Smyton powered his way over from the back of a scrum for his second try. Keys converted and the Fermanagh men led by 21 points to 3.
Dungannon, to their credit, kept plugging away and kept putting pressure on ERGS. They got their reward thanks to an uncharacteristic series of defensive mistakes by the visitors who fell off a tackle on the Dungannon out half and then failed to cover an excellent attack line being run by the full back who scored under the posts. He followed this up by converting his own try.
It turned out to be a momentary aberration as ERGS dominated the remainder of the game. Good carries by prop Andrew Dane, replacement winger, Curtis Coalter and flanker, Harry Dane led to Phair crossing the try line once again. Unfortunately, the referee called another “held up” but, before the end of play, Parke capped an excellent game with a brace of tries. Keys converted both to round off an impressive display with the boot and bring up a final score of 35 to 10 in favour of the visitors.
Overall it would be churlish, given the conditions and the score, to be overly critical of the ERGS performance. They may have had a higher failure rate than the opposition in terms of passes held but that showed a higher level of ambition. They were much stronger in defence, as evidenced by a miss tackle count of 5 compared to Dungannon’s 15. Beating Dungannon, and by that score, is a significant achievement and leaves them with a record this season so far of played 6, won 5 and lost only 1.
ERGS Try scorer:- Ryan Phair, Callum Smyton (2), Alex Parke (2)
Conversions:- Eddie Keys (5)