Cooke v Enniskillen 3 Nov 2018
Cooke took the honours in this closely contested encounter with Enniskillen as both teams resumed their league campaigns after a number of weeks lay-off.
Enniskillen kicked off confidently with their much vaunted pack maintaining possession allowing strong running centre, Mark O’Shea, to give the visitors a 5 point lead with only six minutes on the clock. Cooke out half, Andy Hanna reduced the arrears with a penalty from 30 metres out as the home side absorbed pressure for most of the first quarter.
With just over half an hour played, lively Cooke scrum half, Ryan Flavelle, turned the tables with what was the try of the game. Taking the ball on from a ruck on the half way line he jinked his way through a flat footed Enniskillen defence touching down beside the posts to give Hanna an easy conversion. As the half time whistle beckoned Enniskillen second row Jamie Kelly was yellow carded for killing the ball at a breakdown giving Cooke a one man and 10 points to 5 advantage at the break.
Cooke started the second half playing into the wind but in much more composed form and after 10 minutes Flavelle fed winger Andy Pollock who out-paced his opposite number to score an unconverted try in the corner. Enniskillen fought back immediately and were awarded a penalty in front of the Cooke posts when the defenders handled in a ruck. The visitors number 10, Nicky Finlay, added the 3 points which were cancelled out 5 minutes later when Hanna converted a penalty as the Enniskillen backs were guilty of crossing in their own 22.
Cooke centre and captain Kyle Mitchell retired injured at this stage but replacement, Alan Gourley, continued the flow of ball across the Cooke backline. A solid Cooke scrum as the game approached the final quarter secured the game for the Shaw’s Bridge men. With possession again spread amongst the Cooke backs, full-back, Phil Cartmill, accelerated through a gap for a try which Hanna converted, stretching the Cooke lead to 25 points to 8. Enniskillen were by no means finished at this stage with their influential second row, Jamie Kelly, powering over for a try following a rolling maul. Nicky Finlay’s conversion concluded the score at 25 : 15 as the visitors failed to take advantage when Cooke flanker, Elliott and winger Nelson both received yellow cards in the final 10 minutes.
The win is an important one for Cooke allowing the team to remain in the top half of the table. Much encouragement may be taken by the way the pack performed against a strong Enniskillen 8 with the trio of Elliott, Robinson and Lyons establishing themselves as one of the best back row units in Championship One. Youthful prop James Milligan again impressed. Given sufficient possession the Cooke backs are, as always, dangerous with the counter attacking skills of its back 3 of Andy Pollock, Andy Nelson and Phil Cartmill causing disruption to opposing defence patterns.
Man of the Match: Ryan Flavelle