A sunny Saturday morning saw Banbridge Academy head down the M1 to play the first home game of the season for the Enniskillen Royal U14 team. A good crowd of familiar faces lined the touchline in the expectation of watching the team record their first home win of the 2016/17 season.
The Enniskillen U14s lived up to those expectations right from the kick off. The Enniskillen forward combination of Matthew Graham, John Elliot and David Stinson pressurised the Banbridge forwards at the break down and the backs successfully minimised the space available for the Banbridge backs to work in. Pressure by Jason Bothwell led Banbridge to kick for touch in an effort to gain territory. Justin White claimed the ensuing line out for Enniskillen and the scrum half/out half combination of Eddie Keys and Matthew Bothwell made sure the ball found its way at pace, first to inside centre Stephen Balfour and then Taine Haire at outside centre. Taine drew his opposite number into the tackle creating space for full back Sam Milligan to race from deep. Sam made good ground, drew further Banbridge players into the tackle zone and then released winger Sam Balfour on the wing who finished the play with a try.
Hooker Ryan Phair claimed the restart, powerfully carried the ball to the halfway line before offloading to Callum Smyton. Callum showed his class by carrying the ball through the entire Banbridge team before offloading to Eddie Keys for the try. The first scrum of the match came in the next passage of play and was won against the head by the Enniskillen pack. Once again, Banbridge had no answer for the handling skills of the Enniskillen back line and Sam Milligan made the score 17-0.
The third try had coach Stephen Bothwell smiling as the team made ground straight up the middle of the pitch, offloading the ball in the tackle 5 times in doing so. Henry Keys making the final pass to Stephen Balfour to touch down beneath the posts. A further two tries were run in before half time to take the score to 38 – 0.
Eddie Keys kicked the second half into action and Ryan Phair reclaimed the ball immediately. Henry Hutchinson, Zak Havers and Ben Davis then helped the forwards roll on towards the Banbridge touchline where the move was uniquely finished by Matthew Bothwell diving over the top of the pile of Banbridge defenders. Hugo Graham and Andrew Patton came on from the bench and maintained the Enniskillen dominance. The last try of the game went to Taine Haire who had been released by Adam Sanderson after he had carried the ball at pace from the halfway line to the five metre line. Final score: Enniskillen Royal U14 57 – 0 Banbridge Academy.