12 October 2019
Enniskillen Royal warmed up for the first round of the Ulster Schools Cup Pool Stages with a comprehensive home win over Rainey Endowed from Magherafelt. ERGS’s superior form this season allowed them to risk resting some key play, a gamble that was clearly justified as they ran in 3 tries in the first 10 minutes. ERGS right wing, Sam Balfour, scored two and flanker, Matthew Wilson picked up the third. In what was to become a remarkable afternoon of place kicking, their out-half, Eddie Keys, converted all three from wide on the touchline.
Having established a decent lead Royal blooded some of the younger players in their squad. Devin Harron, a Year 12 student, caught the eye playing at flanker. In spite of a raft of substitutions there was little change in the quality or intensity of ERGS’s play although it has to be said, the Magherafelt team did not put them under any great pressure.
The tries continued to rack up; Sam Balfour ended up with a hattrick and his opposite wing, Sam Milligan, scored two. Albert Gauley, Jason Bothwell and ERGS captain, Robbie Mills added one a piece. Eddie Keys continued to slot the conversions and when he was substituted later in the game, his replacement, George Foster, kept up the 100% success rate. The match finished on an unfortunate note with an injury to scrum-half, Matthew Bothwell, who may be out for next week’s crucial match in the new Schools Cup format. His replacement on the day, Paul McConkey, put in an excellent shift. In fact, the performance of the subs was a very positive factor and a key indicator of the considerable depth of Royal’s squad.
It is difficult to gauge the quality of the ERGS performance as the opposition was poor, or they were certainly made to look poor. The Fermanagh men have suffered narrow defeats against the two top teams in Ulster, Methody and Armagh, but they have averaged over 50 points per game against all other opposition while conceding just two tries. However, all the games to date have been “friendlies”, the serious stuff starts next Saturday, 19th, when ERGS host Portadown College in the first of their qualifying pool matches in the Ulster Schools Cup. The school will be hoping for plenty of local support at this mid-morning match.
ERGS Try scorers:- Sam Balfour (3), Sam Milligan (2), Matthew Wison, Albert Gauley, Jason Bothwell, Robbie Mills.
Conversions:- Eddie Keys (7), George Foster (2).