Final score 45-0
ERGS made the journey to Portadown on Saturday on a mission to get back to winning ways. A hard weeks worth of training was firmly under their belts where they worked on improving line speed, faster movement of the ball and individual responsibility in defence. All of which had been lacking in the last 2 games.
The boys took to the pitch on a what was a beautiful and ideal November day for rugby with a number of key changes and a distinct game plan. Courtney was in for Love at out half, Love moved to inside centre and captain Bothwell to outside centre. Burns was switched to full back and Elliott was on for the injured Carrothers at wing. The pack did not escape the coaches pencil where ‘the beast’ Smyton was moved to No8, the hard running Aiken into second row to partner McHugh, the hard hitting Seaman moved to openside and ‘the engine’ Hetherington into front row.
With a notable change in the attitude of the boys the kick off was chased hard and from the first few exchanges it became clear that ERGS had not made the journey to play second fiddle. A storming run from Aiken with great leg drive brought play to within meters of the the Killicomaine line, several short and fast phases of play followed where all members of the pack became involved. The play moved across the pitch with the home side defending desperately and ERGS passionately looking for the points. A quick switch at a ruck in the midfield saw Hamill find a storming Aiken who took the ball with aggression and speed and simply dozed his way under the posts. Hamill added the points.
Straight from the kick off ERGS were back on the front foot with superb line speed and hard running. Symton was starting to show his authority and his move to No 8 was starting to look like a good one, his powerful running and natural ability proved to be a huge thorn in the side of Killicomaine all day and he was ably supported in the first half by his back row counterparts Nelson and Seaman. Retaining the ball, ERGS quickly thumped their way into a good territorial position through several phases and but for a dropped ball a try went begging. It was from a resultant ruck that ERGS managed to secure quick ball and with fast and accurate passing along the back line, the flyer Harte stepped on the gas and scored a lovely try in the far corner and showed all watching just how dangerous he is when given the ball. The highlight of this try was the delayed pass from captain Bothwell who with precision took out 2 defenders to release Harte, a magical moment. The conversion was narrowly missed.
ERGS were totally dominating play despite some spirited work from Killicomoine and it was a pleasure to watch the work done in training being transferred to the game situation. Hamill was distributing fast ball from a pack with their tails up and this was demonstrated beautifully when ERGS won a lineout just outside the Killicomaine 22. Going backwards, Hamill whizzed out a finger tip pass to Courtney who shifted a crisp pass to the powerful Love. From there the ball continued to move fluently along the line into the hands of Harte, who again primed the after burners to fly down the wing to score his second try out wide within a few minutes. This was without doubt the nicest try that this team has scored so far this year and was a lovely display of what they are capable of. Hamill missed the conversion.
Further good strong rucking and running from Aiken, Seaman and Smyton finished what was a great first half for the boys, where every player on the pitch took responsibility for their role and executed the game plan extremely well. The tackling was hard and meaningful, the defence when it was needed was ferocious and the boys adapted to the changes with ease.
The second half could not come quickly enough for the eager ERGS side. The huge hitting Seaman who had a great game in a new position was replaced by the returning Graham, who was making his come back from a fractured hand at openside. Love and Courtney swapped, J Corrigan came on for Elliott on the wing and Clarke came into the front row for the strong running Monaghan. The half started as the first half had ended, with the ERGS pack dominant in the loose and the ball being very quickly recycled from the base of the rucks by Hamill, allowing the rejigged back-line to continue to put the opposition under severe pressure. Aiken and Smyton continued their devastating runs and it was from a phase of extreme pressure that Aiken powered through for his second try. Hamill slotted the points.
Almost immediately ERGS were back in the Killicomaine 22 and much to the delight of the travelling supporters, Smyton who had simply bossed the game, broke free to score what was a well deserved try. Again Hamill popped the ball over for the added points.
The game continued on this theme for the rest of the half with huge credit to Killicomaine for keeping their heads up and battling right to the end. Further changes were made with Magee coming on at fly half for Courtney, McCabe coming in at full back and B Corrigan slotting into the front row. From an ERGS scrum, Love who was fed a lovely ball from Magee, spotted space on the blindside and with power and grit made his way from halfway to score a lovely individual try under the posts. Hamill added the extras.
The game ended with another display of power from Smyton who crashed over for a well deserved second and Hamill slotting his 5th conversion.
Overall this was a great return to form for this talented team. This was our biggest win to date and during the game the team demonstrated in phases just how devastating they can be when they stick to the game plan and play to their strengths. It must be pointed out that as well as the storming runs, which were a feature of this game there was some quiet, determined and hard work put in by others on the team, namely Nelson, Kerr, McHugh and Hetherington, who provided the base from which to launch the attacking rugby.
It was very pleasing for the coaches to note that when in defence the defensive line was aggressively guarded, the ball was moved with pace and accuracy to the wings and body position at the rucks was much improved. But for some lack of discipline and a bit of white line fever, the score would have no doubt been added to and to win against the best, the boys will need to maintain that discipline right to the end of every game.
So overall a great return to winning rugby.
The boys then had the pleasure of heading to the AVIVA to watch Ireland vs Fiji. A great day was had by all and the boys were a credit to themselves and their school.