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1XV bounce back against Enniskillen

Posted On: Monday, March 2, 2015

The Maxol-sponsored Carrick 1st XV bounced back from their narrow defeat by Omagh the previous week with an emphatic 20 points to 3 away win over Enniskillen. The match was played in terrible conditions, with a strong breeze and heavy rain throughout and a badly churned up pitch. It was not a day for running rugby and the outcome was always going to be determined by whichever side adapted better to the conditions and by the relative strengths of their forward packs. Carrick came out on top on both scores, abandoning tactical kicking and moving the ball wide early on and trying to keep possession among the forwards as much as possible. Not that that was an easy option with the heavy churned up pitch and the ball like a bar of soap. The Carrick scrum was on top from early on, the line-out functioned as well as could be expected in the conditions and the visitors took the ball on the Enniskillen throw on a couple of occasions. As the game wore on, the Carrick forwards gradually took control in the loose, carrying strongly and defending with great determination, especially in the first ten minutes of the second half when Enniskillen had their line under siege. Ryan McGonigle and Chris Rodgers were the most prominaent Carrick ball carriers but they were well supported by the rest of the pack, with Robbie Williams again doing a good job as a stand-in blind-side and props Adam Gibney and Michael Smiley helping to make the hard yards. Behind the scrum, Kenny Topping coped well in the circumstances but, with the conditions as they were, the backs were largely reduced to a defensive role, with the Captain, Johnny Cullen, again leading from the front, putting in some big tackles and winning a number of turn-overs.
The early part of the game was dominated by the referee’s whistle as both sides tried, and largely failed, to play rugby in the appalling conditions. Carrick did have one glimmer of a chance when Keny Topping put Aaron McKinney away down the left wing but the move petered out. In the event, it was the home side which took the lead after fifteen minutes when their first real attack ended in a penalty on the Carrick 22 and just to the left of the posts which they duly converted. Carrick had a penalty chance of their own a short time later but, into the stiff breeze, Luke Whittall put the ball to the right of the posts. However, from the Enniskillen drop-out, the visitors came straight back with a strong charge from Chris Rodgers to within a few metres of the Enniskillen line. The second row was then driven over the line and managed to free the ball for Michael Smiley to get the touch-down. Luke Whittall made no mistake with the conversion and Carrick now led by 7 points to 3. They now looked the side more likely to score again as Enniskillen kept trying to move the ball along their backs and ending up turning it over or kicking possession away. Carrick extended their lead just after the half-hour mark when Luke Whittall put over a penalty awarded after the ball had been taken up by Adam Gibney and Ross Marsden. Neither side had any real chances during the remainder of the half which ended with Carrick leading by 10 points to 3.
The home side started the second half strongly and had Carrick under pressure for almost fifteen minutes but their defensive work was excellent and they held out. However, Ennisiskillen did blow one good chance to score when their left winger dropped the ball with the line at his mercy! On their first visit to their opponents’ territory in the second half, Carrick won a penalty at a scrum and from the ensuing line -out set up a drive which ended in Chris Rodgers forcing his way over. The try was not converted but after half-way through the second half Carrick now led by 15 points to 3. Despite a yellow card, Carrick now continued to dominate possession and extended their lead with ten minutes remaining when Ryan McGonigle got the touch-down in a push-over try. Again the conversion was missed from a difficult angle but Carrick were now firmly in control and even when they were briefly down to thirteen men because of a second yellow, their opponents could make little impression. Enniskillen’s day was probably summed up in their last attempt at attack when they made ground up to the Carrick 22 but the ball-carrier was grabbed and held up by the Carrick pack which resulted in a scrum to the visitors. This proved to be the last act of the match leaving Carrick deserved winners by 20 points to 3.
This was a very good performance by Carrick in the conditions and against a side which had beaten them in the fixture at Tom Simms Memorial Park back in early November. Carrick now have two home games in a row, the first against Grosvenor this Saturday. Carrick will be anxious to put matters right against the Belfast side to whom they lost at Belmont early in the season.
The Carrick team against Enniskillen was:-
A. McKinney; J. Wady, J. Cullen (Capt), J. Sheriff (C. Cambridge), P. Simpson; L. Whittall, K. Topping; A. Gibney, N. Hanna, M. Smiley, A. Kinkaid, C. Rodgers, R. Williams, R, Marsden( R. Crymble), R. McGonigle.

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