With the 1st XV having a blank League week, the 2nd XV entertained Skipton in this Merit game with conditions being good for a change. After Skipton took an early lead with a good try by their lively centre, the hosts gradually worked their way back in front with three well-worked tries to come out on top.
The 'Ensians front row of Ben Newall, Rob Lyon and Peter Bonner didn't find it easy going against the visitors' hefty pack, but they commanded their own ball to allow half backs Rob Lofthouse and Lewis Chick the spread the ball wide. Skipton defended well and play was fairly even until 12 minutes when their speedy backs found space in midfield to put their centre away who outpaced two defenders and then rounded the full back to score a fine try near the posts. The conversion gave the visitors a 7 - 0 lead.
The home side responded with some enterprising back play by centres Michael Philpott and Matt Garratt. Winger Ieuan Cranswick made ground on the left and then exchanged passes with Philpott who squeezed over in the corner. The failed conversion moved the score to 7 - 5 in Skipton's favour. The injured Philpott was replaced by stand-in centre Rob Arbuckle who made some robust runs to add beef to the attack.
The visitors were still very much in the game and their rangy back row turned over several balls to set up attacks. The home back three of Andy Nichols, Ali Campbell and Cranswick coped well with a series of long kicks and, with good support from the back row of Ken Luu, Alan Garnett and Dominic Birkin, play moved into the visitors' 22. When they infringed, Lewis Chick landed a penalty to take an 8 - 7 lead as half time approached.
After the interval, 'Ensians continued to attack with some powerful runs from locks Ross Nichols and Brett Tenniswood. Full back Campbell linked up well with the backs and Cranswick jinked his way through half way out. The conversion by hooker Rob Lyon stretched their lead to 15 - 7 on 46 minutes.
The visitors were far from finished and put together some threatening back moves, taking play into the 'Ensians' half. Careless passing by the home side gifted the ball to Skipton who with good support play produced a try wide out to narrow the home side's advantage to 15 - 12 on 55 minutes.
Both sides continued to play open rugby with the home back division handling well and posing the most threats. After slick passing across the field, replacement winger Sam Tetley rounded his man and went in at the corner. Although the conversion failed, the hosts now had a 20 - 12 lead on 69 minutes. Unfortunately Rob Lofthouse suffered a nasty hand injury and was replaced by Cranswick at scrum half.
Skipton continued to compete fiercely for the last ten minutes, but the spirited home defence contained things with flankers Birkin and Luu always in the thick of it. This was a well-earned Merit victory for 'Ensians in an evenly-balanced and enjoyable match.
'Ensians 1st XV return to League action next week facing a testing away game at Ossett to try and keep their promotion prospects alive. Harrogate Python's victory on Saturday against Marist in a re-arranged League fixture has pushed 'Ensians into third place.