Experience proves key for Enniskillen
By Stephen Walker
City of Derry 3rd XV Match Report
City of Derry RFC 3rd XV Match Report
(vs Enniskillen 3rd XV, 10/11/18)
City of Derry 7 – 10 Enniskillen
On Saturday 10th November 2018, City of Derry 3rd XV hosted Enniskillen 3rd XV at the Craig Thompson Stadium. After a short break following an impressive win against Strabane 2nd XV, the Derry men hoped to pick up where they left off. With the sun shining, and a very experienced Enniskillen team as opposition, the Derry men knew they were in for a battle. After a slightly later start than anticipated due to the late arrival from Enniskillen. Derry were eager to get proceedings underway, kicking off into the sun, Derry took no time to front up and throw bodies on the line, taking the play straight to Enniskillen.
The first half saw both teams throw everything they had at the opposition. Derry started the better side, dominating the lineouts and pinning Enniskillen back in their own 22. However, the final ball just wasn’t going to hand. The longer the game went on the more Enniskillen grew into it, starting to go through their phases. Which generally consisted of the forwards trucking up the ball. Here Enniskillen where very effective, meaning Derry too found themselves pinned back on their own line in the later stages of the first half. Bodies were being thrown on the line to prevent Enniskillen from opening the scoring. Captain Aaron McIvor’s challenge was the breakthrough Derry needed, putting the opposition player back and dislodging the ball. Allowing Derry to clear their lines.
A further tug of war session proceeded, with the two evenly matched sides giving everything they had. Enniskillen No.8 was an experienced old timer, who still had some miles in the tank. Throwing his weight around effectively, gaining yards from crashing up the ball phase after phase. Captain Aaron McIvor and their No.8 had a huge collision in the centre of the pitch, re-aggravating a pre-match niggle Aaron was carrying, unfortunately forcing one of Derry’s most influential players on the day to be replaced. However, Derry had a bench hungry for game time raring to go, with Diarmuid O’Kane coming on as a replacement. Allowing Derry to see the half out and maintain scoreless.
Half Time Score: City of Derry 0 – 0 Enniskillen
The half time interval allowed Derry to collectively assess the situation. Concluding that utilising our pace in the youth will be key. Spreading the ball wide, after earning the right to do so. Putting these plans into practice at the start of the second half proved pivotal. Gaps started opening in the Enniskillen defence allowing Aaron Deery to slip through the middle and run 50 yards before being stopped, this was the turning point. Derry knew they had regained the precious momentum. A further break from Daniel Tranter out wide almost resulted in a try, however he just couldn’t get the crucial offload away in time to the supporting Christopher Killen. Derry had to stay composed, the try was coming.
The physicality of the game was taking its tole on both teams. A short-term injury to Diarmuid O’Kane forced him off to get treatment, seeing Rory McWilliams slot in at hooker. Derry maintained their pressure on the Enniskillen line, forcing a lineout deep in Enniskillen’s 22. An accidental overthrow resulted in Rory McWilliams picking up the scraps from the back of the lineout and sneaking in under the posts. Daniel Tranter slotted over the extra points, giving Derry a 7-0 lead, the least the deserved after the blistering start to the second half.
However, Enniskillen dug deep and called upon their experience. Once again resorting to using their big ball carriers to break the gain line. After a series of line breaks which saw covering tackles from Stephen Walker and Dan Reyes, Derry were back peddling, leaving their defensive line very disjointed. Enniskillen capitalised on this, forcing the ball out wide and scoring through their winger under the posts. A missed conversion was a let off for Derry. However, they had to get back to their attacking ways. Derry 7 – 5 Enniskillen.
This was not to be the case, in the dying embers of the game Enniskillen kept on attacking. Once again playing through their forwards, pressing Derry back closer and closer to their line. Relentless pressure ended in a controversial score, Tom Cameron was under the ball however the Referee awarded the try to Enniskillen. The conversion was once again missed, leaving Derry within touching distance of the win, spurring the men on to react promptly as time was running out.
A knock on from Enniskillen off the kick off allowed Derry hope. Stephen Walker picked off the back off the scrum and the attack was on. Derry applied the pressure, but the Enniskillen defence stood strong, a game where experience proved vital. Enniskillen held out until the final whistle.
Final Score: City of Derry 7 – 10 Enniskillen
A disappointing result for Derry, but a promising performance against a strong Enniskillen side. The heart of the Derry players couldn’t be questioned, the team will look to build upon this result going into future fixtures. This match concluded phase one of the new league system over. We await the draw of the McCambley Cup in two weeks and the completion of other fixtures in order to see what the rest of the season has in store. But signs are promising for the mighty 3’s, who will be ready for whatever the draw throws at them.