Smash and grab for Accies over rivals

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A RED CARD, two yellow cards and a last minute penalty saw a dull match came to a massive crescendo in the final minutes when Omagh staged a smash and grab to steal the points in this derby day clash with Enniskillen at Mullaghmeen.

Enniskillen I XV...8
Omagh Accies I XV...9

There have been plenty of full bodied derby encounters over the years, and times when neither team deserved to lose. This was one in which neither really deserved to win, though entering the last two minutes, Enniskillen held a two point lead. Omagh had upped the tempo in the last quarter looking to create phases of possession, something they struggled to do all afternoon, and unlock an uncompromising and well marshalled Skins defence.

The visitors moved the ball across the field for several phases without ever creating an incisive break and were tuned over some 35 metres out from the Enniskillen to concede a penalty. The Enniskillen faithful roared their approval sensing a touch finder, catch, and drive and run the clock out. The game flipped.

Feeling that the Enniskillen player had tapped, Mervyn Edgar came in and blindsided him with a crunching tackle. This caused a melee in the middle with a home prop looking to exact his justice. Once the referee had restored order, he issued Edgar with a yellow card. While he was extremely lenient with a previous decision to send the home openside to the bin for an off the ball incident, he had no option but to issue a straight red to the prop and reverse the penalty decision.

Murphy stepped up, kept his nerve and stroked the 35 metre penalty through the sticks. There was just time for the kickoff and subsequent knock on which signalled the end of the game, four points for Omagh, a bonus point for Enniskillen and a real life smash and grab to keep the Accies on touch with the leading pack Instonians, Portadown and Ballyclare.

This was a very stop start game , littered with knock ons, plenty of sound, well organised defence and a willingness to move the ball quickly, though lacking a cutting edge and an inability to cross the gain line.

The home side started quicker, hit the post with a penalty and had their scrum and lineout working well, while the Accies looked to open the game up but found it difficult to get their patterns going. James Catterson cleaned up plenty of ball at No.8 while the pack put in plenty of effort but were frantic with ball in hand.

Omagh took the lead with a Murphy penalty after almost 30 minutes, playing downfield on a perfect day for rugby at Mullaghmeen, in what was always going to be a nip and tuck affair. This came from a lovely hanging box kick by scrum half, Adam Beattie and big chasing tackle by Scott Barr.

The backs brimming with confidence then decided to run the ball from a quick lineout in their 22, but disaster struck. They offloaded poorly in the tackle allowing the Enniskillen flanker to gather possession, hand off a tackler and dive over in the corner for a soft try. The conversion was missed. Half time 5-3.

Enniskillen relished playing with the hill in the second half using the blindside well and lock, James Carlton well in both as a ball carrier and in the lineout. They added their lead on the 45 minute mark with Omagh being penalised under the new high tackle laws and the penalty being slotted over.

A god run by Jamie Sproule in midfield set the platform for another penalty which Murphy again knocked over with aplomb to close the gap, though they couldn't take advantage of the home openside being shown a yellow card.

As the game entered the final quarter, Omagh upped the tempo but couldn't get through the home defence until the final two minutes and the major talking point of a fairly low key derby.

“It wasn't pretty. We struggled to get going, shot ourselves in the foot trying to run the ball from deep, but we didn't give up and somehow escaped", said Omagh coach, Phil Marshall after the match.

Marshall will hope to have some of the seven first team squad players available for the visit of Dromore to Thomas Mellon Plying Fields this week.

Omagh Accies : Lee Murphy, Scott Barr, Neil Brown, Yonga Taleni, Ryan Mitchell, Neil MacLaine, Adam Beattie, Kyle Alexander (c), Richard Hemphill, David Thompson, Mervyn Edgar, Jamie Sproule, Adam Longwell, Richard Harpur, James Catterson

Subs : Stephen MacLaine, Adam Pollock


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