Enniskillen Royal 2ndXV vs Portadown
To quote the Portadown coach following the match it was “a game of mistakes”. Unfortunately, on this pleasant sunny morning in County Armagh, Enniskillen made more mistakes than Portadown.
The home side kept possession for the first period and did not allow the visitors out of their own half. Close to the Enniskillen try line Portadown’s out-half, Elliot McHugh, sold a neat dummy which created enough space for him to skip through and go over for their first try. Sadly, Enniskillen didn’t learn much from their mistake and McHugh did the exact same thing 5 minutes later! Despite the 14 point deficit, it was clear that a win against this team was far from impossible and Enniskillen forwards started to make significant carries with John Allan and Blake Scott being most effective. Jack Kennedy began to dominate the lineout and stole the odd ball while Chris Balfour was early and destructive at the rucks.
The visitors were now up to full speed and played some flowing rugby that stretched the opposition and put their captain, James Balfour, through for their opening score. Balfour played the complete captain’s roe with great hits, decisive line breaks and correct decision making. His injury later in the game was a key factor. Enniskillen followed this up with an inspiring chase and tackle by flanker,Tom Pendry, from a Mark Crawford kick. Two quick rucks, a neat sidestep from Allan and they had a score just beside the posts. Craig Johnston, who hardly put a foot wrong throughout the entire match, duly converted both tries to bring the score to 14 all at half time.
The ease with which Enniskillen, in top form, scored their two tries should have signalled a shift in momentum and they should have gone on to win the game. Unfortunately, mistakes crept back in. Substitutions had to be made and, while they didn’t weaken the team, they did disrupt the continuity that had built up. Andrew Humphreys made a solid impact replacing prop, David Patton, on his return from illness. Harry Dane replaced the industrious Dylan Johnston and Jonny Irvine came on for Conor Blackwell-Smyth who had been quietly stepping up his game throughout the match.