ERGS Medallions – 29 Ballymena Academy Medallions – 5
Enniskillen Royal Grammar School welcomed Ballymena Academy to Castle Lane on a dry and sunny Saturday morning to contest the quarter final of the Medallion Bowl. The sides had never played each other before so the Enniskillen side were venturing into the unknown and didn’t know what to expect. There was one enforced change to the side as the influential Gauley was absent due to a family bereavement, however he was ably replaced by Keys at flanker with Smyton switching to No8.
Enniskillen started strong and exerted pressure. A 5 metre scrum resulted in the opening score when Smyton fed Mills who crashed over with only five minutes on the clock. With the conversion successful ERGS were 7 points ahead. An infringement at a scrum allowed Ballymena to kick a penalty back and reduce the arrears to 4 points.
ERGS’s pressure continued and a catch and drive from a lineout tied in the Ballymena defence, a gap opened which Greenaway exploited to extend the Enniskillen lead. However the Fermanagh team wasn’t having everything their own way, Ballymena’s counter rucking was causing them huge problems while trying to retain the ball.
Ballymena tried to reduce the deficit but try as they might the impressive backrow of Rooney, Keys and Smyton were up to the challenge and tackled everything that moved. Carnduff was controlling the lineout and it was from such a set piece that set up a driving maul which almost resulted in another score, but a dogged defence meant the score remained 12-3 in Enniskillen’s favour at halftime.
As the second half got under way Ballymena upped their game and threaten the ERGS line but great defence by Malone, Thompson and particularly Totten forced ‘Mena’ into giving away a penalty to relieve the pressure. Strong ball carrying by White, Crawford and Rutledge were causing the Ballymena pack all sorts of problems and it was only a matter of time before ERGS would extend their lead. Foster received the ball and the young flyhalf interested the cover defence enough to allow Mills space to feed his centre partner Morton who finished well and with conversion successful, the scoreboard now read 19-3.
Ballymena responded and continued to attack, they took play into the Enniskillen half where it took a tremendous defensive effort from the Fermanagh based side to thwart the attack; this was epitomised by a tremendous tackle from scrumhalf Bothwell. As the game reached the closing stages ERGS’s make their way into the opposition’s half once again. Centre Morton gathered a loose ball and scampered his way to score his second try . ERGS’s were not finished and after great pressure from the pack on the Ballymena line, Bothwell fed winger Fraser who finished superbly in the right hand corner to complete the scoring and leave the final score 29-3.
This was probably ERGS medallions best performance of the season while considering they were playing against one of the strongest rugby schools in Ulster. It was also great to see Irish rugby legend Jimmy McCoy at the game and he was obviously very pleased to see his old alma mater getting the victory they deserved. The hours on the training paddock are now paying dividends which is great to see. The team now look forward to a home semi-final clash versus Coleraine Grammar on Tuesday 7th February – bring it on!