The last time these two sides met, just 6 weeks ago, Enniskillen were 57-3 victors, so a fair level of positivity might have been expected amongst the team. However, throw in a long bus journey, a totally new front row and more than a smattering of complacency and you have a very different proposition.
Foyle, on their home soil, attacked every ruck with a passion, (possibly born out of revenge), and put a lack lustre Enniskillen back on their heels from the outset. A strong number 8, a bull of a centre and a quick and capable scrum half kept the visitors trapped in their own half for the opening period coming away with a deserved, but unconverted, try. It would be pleasing to report that Enniskillen immediately raised their game and stormed back into the match but, sadly, their rucking continued at a level just one step above abysmal. They did manage to win the odd ball and the considerable fire power of their back division was eventually brought into play. Captain, Alex Holder, kept the ball moving wide and while centres James Balfour and Curtis Coalter were very solid in the middle of the park, it was the wings who really sparkled today.
Jonny Irvine, coming back from injury, showed his undoubted class every time he got the ball and before too long he burned his opposite number on the outside to score Enniskillen’s first try which Craig Johnston converted.
There was a little more fire from the visitor’s forwards in the second half. Cormac Boylan, Jack Kennedy and Chris Balfour began to disrupt Foyle in the ruck while Ally Jones, Conor Blackwell-Smyth and the ever present Sam Frazer quickly snuffed out any attack by Foyle’s substantial pack. Increased possession for Enniskillen led to more back line moves and well timed passing put wing, Conor Goodall, free to dodge and swerve through the remaining defence to score their second try. Once again, Johnston converted.
Continual pressure on the more fragile elements of Foyle’s back line produced mistakes and from one such error Irvine intercepted a pass and raced away for his second and Enniskillen’s third try. The home side deserve much credit for battling on strongly. Their forwards counter-rucked, stole ball and did their best to disrupt the gallant Matthew McConkey at scrum half. However, when Enniskillen brought on their strong bench of Jack Deane, Finbar McCann, Harry Dane, Mark Crawford and Ben Donaldson the door was firmly closed on any possibility of a late turn around. More sweetly timed passes by the backs gave Donaldson the honour of claiming the final try which he did with his customary aplomb. Jones missed the conversion by a hair’s breadth to leave the final score at 24-5 in favour of the visitors.
Leaving aside the dubious rucking display, there were plenty of positives to report. The appearance of two capable, although inexperienced, props in Adam Edwards and James Graham, the return to play by hooker, John Fitzpatrick and the growing confidence of a talented back line were all welcome points.