Final Score ERGS vs Omagh
The final run out of the year took place on a lovely afternoon at Castle Lane, when the ERGS U14’s proudly hosted their neighbours Omagh Academy. These 2 sides had not met last year due to inclement weather conditions and so it was with some excitement that Bothwell and his band of merry men managed to escape a few hours of ‘class time’ to face what was an almost unknown side to the Enniskillen boys.
It has to be said that given all the recent rain the pitch at Castle Lane was in great condition and the improvements in the surface from last year is remarkable. Amazing what some planned maintenance can do. The boys and coaches are very grateful to the efforts of the PSG in helping to ensure the pitches have been in great order to date, it has made playing on them a pleasure.
Captain Bothwell won the toss and elected to kick with the slight breeze behind him and with the first whistle of the game, Love floated a lovely kick into the heart of the awaiting Omagh pack. ERGS were somewhat changed from the last game. The ever improving Duncan packed down in the front row for the injured Clarke, who has suffered a nasty groin strain that will see him out of action for a number of weeks (no more sidestepping for him for a while) and I’m sure I speak for everyone in wishing Christian a speedy recovery. Courtney at 13 was unavailable, leaving Burns to switch from full-back to fill the outside centre position and Magee slotted into the 15 shirt. It was also great to see the injured Monaghan and our irrepressible sidekick and ‘supersub’, Taggart both down at the pitch side today, their analysis is always appreciated!!
It was during the first few exchanges that ERGS quickly laid down their intent with several thumping tackles by Smyton, Aiken and ‘Bone Crusher’ Seaman, leaving Omagh under no illusion that they were in for a physical encounter. With Omagh under considerable pressure it was with some relief for them when ERGS were penalised for over eagerness at the breakdown after creeping offside. Omagh cleared their lines resulting in the first lineout of the game. The towering figure of Holmes at the front of the lineout was to be a thorn in the side of the visitors for the entire game as he set the tone stealing the ball into his giant hands. With the ball smartly won and secured, the ERGS pack drove hard giving good ball to Hamill to release the back-line for the first time in the game. Simple hands and passing out the line ensured Carrothers got the chance to test the Omagh defence which he did with some glee. Now a familiar sight, Carrothers jinked, stepped and powered his way through a number of tacklers to put the first 5 points on the board. Love made a great attempt at the difficult conversion. 5-0
From the Omagh re-start, ERGS were quickly back into their stride and moving forward with some intent. After several phases of good rugby the pack again set up a decent platform for the back-line. Once again the ball was delivered with accuracy to Carrothers on the wing who managed to evade several tacklers before offloading to the supporting Graham who looked sure to score. However, excellent Omagh defence stopped Graham short and ERGS had to reset and steady the ship. Spotting a gap at the resultant ruck, Hamill at 9 decided to exploit it and with powerful driving support from pack leader Smyton, he was driven over the line to bring the score to 10-0. The kick was floated wide.
From the restart, ERGS ‘knocked on’ allowing Omagh their first entry into the other half of the pitch and the opportunity for both packs to contest the first scrum of the game. The ERGS boys have been working hard on their scrummaging and this was very evident when they easily drove the Omagh side off their own ball. All 8 boys really looked like a solid unit with excellent body positions and timing and this first ‘shove’ was only the start of the dominance by the home side at this important aspect of the game. From the strike against the head, Love quickly changed the call and went blind. His pass found Carrothers in space, however, just as he was about to whizz down the touchline the whistle went for a forward pass, letting Omagh off the hook. This time Omagh managed to secure the ball and have a run at the ERGS midfield. As has been typical of Bothwell at 12 all season, he pressed hard and forced the mistake from his opposite number. Excellent support play ensured ERGS reclaimed the ball and in a flash defence had turned to attack. With a lovely flowing phase of play this time the ball was moved to the dangerous Harte on the other wing who beautifully rounded and stepped his opposite number before being stopped deep inside the Omagh 22. This time Omagh were pinged for offside and Love took the opportunity to pile on more pressure with a deft kick at the corner flag for a lineout. With Holmes again doing the business the ball was made available for Hamill who released Love to spread the ball once again out wide. This time the last pass just didn’t go to hand and the play broke down allowing Omagh another chance to breathe. Once again ERGS were over eager at the breakdown and another penalty was conceded. Omagh did the right thing and cleared their lines. This time they secured the lineout ball but indecision in midfield under significant pressure in defence by ERGS ended up with the home side winning a 5m scrum in a very dangerous position. With the home 8 having such a steady platform the powerful and speedy Smyton picked and went blind leaving the struggling Omagh defence in tatters as he added another 5 points. 15-0
With 3 fairly quick tries the 4th took a bit longer to arrive for the rampant ERGS team as a few handling errors and some indecision started to creep in. With territory and possession totally in their favour for the final 15 minutes of the half and Omagh hardly out of their own 22, it was with some frustration that more points were not added to the scoreboard. Carrothers once again went close and with some strong running from Aiken, Holmes, Hetherington and Smyton the opportunities were made available and were plentiful. Credit must go to Omagh who defended well during this spell of the game and did manage to steal ball at the breakdown through their effective number 8.
The final score of the half came again from a mistake at the lineout by Omagh. With the ball not straight ERGS had another scrum in a good position on the Omagh 22 which provided the platform and starting point for some go forward ERGS play. After several solid and swift phases where Kerr, Duncan and Seaman all were effective in the loose and Omagh’s defence was stretched, Hamill spun a sharp pass to Love on his right who took it at full speed. As he has done many times this year, Love spotted the gap and with his typical determination, he scythed straight through it and went under the posts for a lovely score. The kick was missed. 20-0
The second half was commenced by a somewhat weary looking Omagh side. ERGS had brought Elliott on for Harte on the wing and Nelson in for Seaman at blindside and it was immediately from the restart that the ERGS boys were putting the visitors under more pressure. A high tackle allowed Love to further that pressure with a good kick deep into the Omagh half knowing that the resultant lineout would be pretty secure in the hands of Holmes. As prescribed, Holmes secured possession, Duncan took the ball on powerfully and play was moved into the centre of the pitch following a chip through by Bothwell. With the game flowing nicely for ERGS, Hamill was able to flick play blind and that man again, Love found himself in space. Typically this move has resulted in points for this ERGS side on almost every occasion they have played it and Love was not to disappoint. With the defence covering Carrothers the gap opened and Love stepped straight into it. With a further 2 covering tackles to evade, he did so with some power and over the line he went for his second of the game. Magee narrowly missed the kick: 25-0
The next points took a few minutes to come after Holmes gathered the restart and made a great charge up the flank to take play back into the Omagh half. With ERGS looking dangerous with ball in hand, they recycled the ball well with Graham, Smyton and Nelson all combining well in the loose with Kerr and Duncan making some of the hard yards. Hetherington was putting in his usual high tackle count and hard graft as was Aiken who looked good all game. Omagh who were starting to just lose the discipline in the tackle, made a high tackle, the first of quite a number in the second half and this just compounded the pressure that they were under. ERGS continued to dominate the scrum and the general loose play, however, despite this and their territorial advantage, they were making hard work of getting their next score. It did eventually come after another 2 high tackles by Omagh allowed ERGS to set up camp in the visitors 22. From yet another line-out won by Holmes a training ground move was called. With perfectly set up ball by his charging pack, Hamill fed Love who in turn fed Smyton who came rushing in at a great angle. This caused the Omagh defence to check just for a second and that was all that our own Billy Elliott needed, as he danced his way over the line for a well taken team try. Hamill added the extras. 32-0
The next score was almost immediate and showed a variety of the skills that this team possess. Holmes again started things off with a great catch, run and set up from the restart. Quick recycled ball was lofted inch perfect by Hamill into the air. Love who always chases hard, leapt like a salmon and took the ball on the run to continue the play. Great support from the back row allowed another quick set up and good ball for Hamill. This time he popped the pass blind to the rampaging figure of Holmes who smashed his way towards the Omagh line. Hauled down inches short he had the awareness of someone who has been playing for years (this was only his 3rd game!!) to look up for his support and offload to the ever present, and hard working Hetherington, who crashed over for what was a super duper try. Magee just fell short with his kick. 37-0
For the next few minutes Omagh fought back and although territory was not in their favour they bravely tried hard to run at the ERGS side. They unfortunately lost their number 8 due to injury around this time but some of their tackling from 2 or 3 hardy souls was impressive. Some good covering tackles by Magee, Hamill and Love along the back-line held the visitors at bay and Magee popped up again on 2 occasions to field and clear difficult kicks aimed in his direction. On a rare excursion into the ERGS half they met a hungry home defence who were determined to maintain a clean sheet and eventually that pressure in defence caused a turnover ball which ERGS quickly exploited. With Love looking to keep the pressure on, he sent a training ground crossfield kick towards Carrothers. This was very close to almost being perfect and although Carrothers didn’t gather it as planned, he placed the Omagh full back under all sorts of pressure and managed to win the ball on the ground showing what a competitor he can be. This immediate territorial advantage was further increased when Smyton once again broke from a strong ERGS scrum. This time he was halted about 3 meters short of the line, but the support was there from his pack allowing Hamill to quickly pick and go, squeezing through the narrowest of gaps in the centre of a mass of bodies to score a typical scrum half try and his second of the game. The kick was missed leaving the final score 42-0.
Overall the ERGS boys did what was needed of them. It was another good win against an unknown team during which there was some beautiful rugby played with some good performances from several of the boys. This game marked the end of the 2018 games and leaves this side going into 2019 unbeaten. This record is a credit to the whole squad who have all worked incredibly hard so far this season and they are getting their rewards for that, so a huge well done to them all.
Training continues during the holiday period and we look forward to seeing the commitment continue and to the upcoming games in the New Year. There is still much to do, things to learn and laughs to be had, so on behalf of all the coaching team, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and send a huge thank you for all the support during 2018.