Saturday saw the return leg of the opening fixture of the season. A fixture which ERGS won by a margin of 19 points to 7 the first time around. ERGS boasted an impressive squad containing 23 players who were all eager to have game time. A squad this size bodes well for the upcoming away fixtures throughout the rest of the season. All the players were aware that the travelling Foyle side were seeking revenge for the opening defeat. The determination and ambition of the Foyle side became a reality when, almost straight from the kick-off, some slack defending allowed the travellers to score under the posts within the first minute of the game. They converted the place kick to leave ERGS trailing by 7 points to nil.
To the credit of the ERGS players this seemed to be the wake-up call they needed. From the restart the home side moved up a gear and started to play with more confidence and more akin to the type of rugby they had been playing all season. The pack, led by James Morrison, started to exert pressure on the opposition which then allowed ERGS team to retain more possession. This pressure started to show reward when some strong and determined running from Harvey Little saw the No.8 break through a number of tackles and score ERGS first try of the morning. Unfortunately Howe missed the conversion. Score 5 – 7, Game on.
Straight from the kick off saw a resurgent Enniskillen side produce the best passage of rugby so far in the game. Will Kennedy collected the ball directly from the kicker and drove forward making great ground before offloading to the supporting James Morrison who continued the momentum. Quick ball provided by Cameron Smyth to Tadgh Hambly and with some swift handling by James Trotter allowed Alex Howe to outpace the Foyle defensive line and score under the posts for what was a true indication of how good this team can be. Score 10 – 7. Tadgh Hambly took over kicking duty and converted his kick with accuracy. Score 12 – 7 to the home side who took the lead for the first time in the game.
Having lost the lead the Foyle team re-grouped and once again showed the home side that they were determined to leave Fermanagh with something to show for their long journey. A very tight period of rugby ensued with both sides making and conceding ground to one another. It was the travelling team who broke this period of stalemate. The home side will be disappointed with the non-committed tackling allowing a nimble footed Foyle No.10 to dance his way to restoring parity. Score 12 – 12 at half-time.
The second half kicked off with two evenly matched teams not wanting to surrender any territory to the opposition and another period of tight rugby and few chances developed. ERGS side made some hard earned ground through strong running by Noah Quigley and sniping runs by Cameron Smyth around the fringes. At this point it looked like only one team were going to go on and win this game, however ERGS wasted some glorious opportunities to break the deadlock having worked hard and created an overlap on numerous occasions only to take the ball back into the congested contact zone. It was Foyle who struck the telling blow from a penalty conceded in the ERGS 22 and took the lead with some aggressive running and scored a fortuitous try as the ball was knocked on just before it crossed the line, as seen by the eagled eyed Foyle coach but missed by almost everyone watching. The conversion was missed leaving the score 12-17 to the visitors.
The hosts were not to be outdone and the pride to wear the ERGS jersey gave the boys that little bit extra want which saw them pile pressure on the Foyle team who were trying to hold out for the final whistle. A prolonged period of pressure from Enniskillen saw them drive forward time and time again against a very resilient Foyle defence. Strong running with ball in hand by Callum Beacom, Thomas Coulson, Enda Love and Charles Patton provided for a fantastic finale to the game. Front foot rugby created the final move which saw the explosive back line move the ball swiftly through the hands of Eamon Greene, Daniel Balfour and finally to Jake Woods who, despite being hit with a last ditch tackle by the visiting wing forward, was able to ground the ball and level the scores at 17-17. The final kick of the game, a conversion from the touchline hit the post and the score remained level at 17 all.
The scoreline was a probably a true and fair reflection on a game which ended with the honours shared and both sets of coaches happy.
A number of the ERGS players picked up some knocks during the game and we wish them all a speedy recovery.
Harvey Little x1
Alex Howe x1
Jake Woods x1
Tadgh Hambly x1