ERGS 2ndXV lost to Armagh for the third time in a row on Saturday. The previous two were away matches lost by the narrowest of margins so there were hopes of a reversal in fortune for this home fixture. Certainly, Enniskillen were well capable of winning the tie and, indeed, they opened the scoring after an excellent rolling maul finished off very neatly by centre Stephen Balfour. It was poor decision making and a lack defensive organisation, for which you could read “lack of experience”, that led to their eventual downfall.
In the set pieces, ERGS were superior, driving the larger Armagh pack back at every ruck where Andrew Humphreys, Ben Davis and John Fitzpatrick were imperious. Humphreys was the outstanding forward on the field in both set pieces and the loose. Enniskillen also held their own in the line-out. Zac Havers, Michael Rooney, Henry Keys and Matthew Wilson delivered consistent ball to the impressive Matthew Bothwell from Fitzpatrick’s accurate throwing. In the loose Henry Keys stood out. Although small for a backrow player, he more than made up for a lack of physique with aggression, speed and wonderful skills.
If ERGS could claim bragging rights in the forwards, then Armagh were well justified in doing so in the backs. With an efficient set of half backs, two powerful centres and a speedy back three, they made 30 or 40 metre gains almost at will. For Enniskillen, it was not a case of any particular individual failing to do his job, it seemed to be more of an organisational failure involving both the midfield and the back row. Whatever the reason, the Armagh backs exploited the weakness to score three evenly spaced tries, one of which they converted, to give a final score of 17 points to 5 in favour of the visitors.
In a tense, closely fought game both teams were guilty of indiscipline and received a shed load of penalties mainly for back-chat and off side at the rucks: four yellow cards, two for each team, were doled out by a slightly exasperated referee.
ERGS will, no doubt, be frustrated by the result, this was a match that they could so easily have won. They had more possession and many more opportunities to score than Armagh did. Searing breaks by Stephen Balfour and the woefully underused full back, Jack O’Hare, brought the home side to within a metre of the Armagh try line on many occasions only for poor decisions to prevent ERGS crossing the line. That having been said, Armagh were last year’s Ulster Schools Cup finalists, so producing a performance that ended in a result that could have gone either way should give them great confidence when facing any future opponents.
ERGS Try scorer:- Stephen Balfour