Wallace High just pipped Enniskillen Royal 36 – 35 in this highly entertaining schools match on Saturday morning at the High School.
The match was competing with the World Cup Final but I think I made the right decision in covering this one, it was an absolute cracker.
Enniskillen applied the early pressure with Ulster U18 Schools player Callum Smyton leading the way, the young Enniskillen player dominating the airspace in the line-outs and covering a huge amount of yards with his carries.
His back row colleagues weren’t far behind in their influence and it was open-side David Stinson who scored the first try, burrowing low close to the posts for Eddie Keys to convert.
Wallace, who had been fairly scrappy for most of the first quarter, upped their game and hit back fairly sharply a long pass by Nathan Doak finding winger Harry Wallace in space on the right. Doak added the extras and minutes later he stepped up to put Wallace in front, somewhat against the run of play , with a well struck penalty.
However, Smyton was relentless for most of the first half and a break by the Enniskillen No. 8 down their right was fed inside for Stinson to power home in the corner for his second, expertly converted by Keyes.
Next up was the try of the game, and believe you me there were a few contenders. Enniskillen’s centre broke from deep with the ball moving through a couple of pairs of hands, all at full pace, before finding Stuart Brown out wide. Brown rounded the defence and finished up under the posts. Brilliant. Keyes knocked over the conversion and the Grammar led 10 – 21 and they looked to be cruising.
However, the High School had other ideas and, despite being largely outplayed for most of the first half, they rallied in the closing minutes for Cameron Doak to power over with the last play. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 15 – 21 in Enniskillen’s favour at the break.
Enniskillen pushed their lead out to 13 points at the start of the second half with Mattie Bothwell grabbing a try, within minutes of the restart, for Keyes to convert. However, the game took a dramatic turn shortly after.
Wallace had brought on the influential Ben Carson at half time but the bustling centre was still working his way into the game and it was Nathan Doak who made the next move with a couple of precise chips up the centre of the pitch. The second chip-ahead was chased down on the line by Wallace’s centre before he was taken out off the ball. Penalty try to Wallace and yellow card for the Enniskillen defender.
Wallace’s replacements were making an impact and the home team were sniffing blood. Carson was starting to hit his straps and minutes later he jinked through the crowd to hit the try line. Nathan Doak’s conversion took the score to an unlikely 29 – 28 about 15 minutes into the second half.
Ten minutes later it was Nathan Doak busting through the centre for a try and conversion to extend their lead to 36 – 28.
A somewhat shell shocked Enniskillen hit back minutes later with scrum half Sam Balfour slipping clear for a sneaky one and with the excellent Keyes completing a full house of conversions it was back to a one point game.
The visitors pushed for a score, of any kind, to take the game but they were denied by the big hitting Wallace defence, the entertainment ending without further score.
What a game to start Saturday morning – brilliant.