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Our first league game of the season saw us travelling to Fermanagh to face an Enniskillen side which finished in the top 4 last season. It had been a long time since we won a fixture down there and we were prepared for a tough afternoon. However, the weather was warm, shirt sleeves for the spectators, and the pitch was firm and in good condition.

A number of injuries and player unavailability meant that there were quite a few changes from the team that beat Donaghadee the previous week.

Playing down the slope towards the clubhouse in the first half, CI started positively and totally dominated the first 25 minutes. First phase, scrum and lineout, performed really well and turning over lineout possession from the home side became a feature which continued throughout the game. That said Enniskillen defended resolutely and held firm in the opening period.

Midway through the half CI won a Skins lineout just inside the homeside’s half. The ball was moved quickly and, after several phases of excellent handling, CI broke through. Slick passing and a clever inside pass from Andy Hodgson saw Michael Houston put away wide on the left wing. He showed great pace to make it in the corner. Lawton converted from the touchline. 0 : 7.

CI continued to dominate but, as we moved towards halftime, Skins slowly began to get into the game. After some “hard yard” carrying from their pack and clever darts from their scrum half, they found a gap and crossed over near the posts. Conversion added. 7 : 7. More Skins pressure led to a penalty on the 20m line towards the touchline, instead of kicking to the corner, they took a scrum back which gave our lineout a boost.

Shortly after, as Skins pushed forward again, CI were penalized and the penalty was duly converted. 10 : 7.

From the restart CI attacked again. A line break led to more pressure on the Skins line. They infringed, not for the first time, and Lawton converted the penalty.

Half time 10 : 10. It is fair to say we felt a little disappointed that we weren’t ahead at this stage.

2nd half started well for Skins, playing down the slope, and after a period of pressure they crashed over for a score, out wide. Conversion was good. 17 : 10.  The crowd were roaring.

The game became very open, running rugby. However, CI continued to dominate at the line out and this created a platform to move forward. Flowing rugby from the Hoops stretched the home side again and eventually a gap emerged and Glendinning burst through to score a fine try. Lawton converted. 17 : 17.

CI were dominating again and a high tackle close to the Skins line produced a yellow card. Pressure told again as CI moved the ball about and again Glendinning broke through to score close to the posts. The 2 points were a formality. 17 : 24.

The game was drawing to a conclusion and CI missed a golden opportunity to “kill it off”. Another fantastic break out wide, 2 on 1 overlap, line beckoning, but the pass was dropped.

That led to a fightback from Skins, and an obstruction led to a yellow card for CI. All hands to the pump as Skins piled on the pressure and they too fumbled a scoring opportunity.  The game ended as it started, a solid CI scrum and the ball kicked dead for a well deserved win.

Big shout out to Hodgey, Pete at 9, and of course Glendinning for those 2 tries. Also our league debutants.. Wiseman and Finlay.

On a sad note.. Scott McNarry broke his wrist… get well soon Scott, you will be missed.