Ilkley RFC is proud of a home win at the weekend as Sean Crannigan reports.
After last week’s disappointment at Sandal, Ilkley were determined to make amends, albeit against a side that had beaten Heath the week before - not such an easy task then. The selected fifteen looked good on paper, with arguably the strongest set of backs to represent the Club so far this season. The weather forecasters had got it right and bang on 2.30 the rain started, suggesting that handling was going to be a problem and so it proved, both sides finding the increasingly slippery ball difficult to control. Ilkley started very well, winning both the first line and scrum of the day, eventually taking advantage of some indecision by the visitors to allow Kieran Wilyman to score after just three minutes of play. Charles Morgan missed the kick, but this was exactly how his side wanted to start. Less palatable was Ilkley’s propensity to concede penalties and after a maul was alleged to have been pulled down by the Ilkley pack, the visitors’ Connor Brewster slotted the penalty to make it 5.3 with under ten minutes played. Ilkley were looking sharp and the backs were looking very dangerous with ball in hand, but losing two of their own lines in quick succession hardly helped their cause. However, their next foray into enemy territory yielded a penalty for a high tackle, despatched by Morgan to make it 8.3 at the end of the first quarter. As the rain came down, some fierce Ilkley tackling repelled all that Scunthorpe could offer in attack. The home side’s growing supremacy earned two kickable penalties, the second of which sailed over to increase the Ilkley lead to 11.3. Ilkley full-back Ben Magee limped off for some treatment, to be replaced by Kodie Brook and with five minutes to half-time, Scunthorpe made a rare visit to the Ilkley 22. Their efforts were repelled with some feisty defence though and the Dalesmen’s lead was maintained as half-time was blown. Not the best of starts for Ilkley as a couple of penalties conceded deep in their own half gave the visitors a bit of momentum and it came as no surprise when Brewster nailed a simple chance to narrow the score to 11.6. Straight back on the attack, a superb break by Harry Harrison was halted illegally. Ilkley opted for a kick to touch - should it have been a kick for points ? Their line was lost to the crowd’s dismay and the Scunthorpe defence kicked to touch, but Ilkley had another chance from the line-out. This time there was no mistake as Harrison profited from a training-ground move, slicing in from the blindside wing to go in under the posts. Morgan added the extras - 18.6. With a good half hour to play, Ilkley were beginning to look comfortable and even when a penalty was conceded 10m out, resulting in a yellow card for Wilyman - and an easy kick for Brewster - the home side swept back with some style. Following some class running in the backs and a beautifully weighted pass from Ben Magee, replacement Joe Lowes crashed over on the right wing. Morgan made the tricky conversion look easy and Ilkley were now looking for the bonus point try at 25.9. There was a quarter of an hour left to play and Scunthorpe were starting to look threatening again. Ilkley though stood firm and despite being clearly in referee Mr.Higgins’ bad books, all Scunthorpe’s attacks were doughtily defended until scrum-half Jack Maplesden was adjudged to have gone a step too far and was shown yellow. The visitors opted for a scrum and although the ball seemed to have squirted out on the open side, Mr. Higgins was of the opinion that the Ilkley defence had encroached and awarded the penalty try. That brought the score to a mildly uncomfortable 25.16 with five minutes to go.
The remaining passages of play were worth the entrance money. Scunthorpe were desperate for a losing bonus point and Ilkley wanted the try bonus point and both sides tried hard to achieve these goals Into injury time, Ilkley had a scrum in the opposition 22. Winning it, a simple kick to touch would have sealed the win, but Morgan had other ideas and spun the ball wide. Ilkley lost the ball at the breakdown, but when the visitors attempted to break out, that move broke down too and a penalty was conceded. Magee took a quick one and scampered over for his side’s fourth try, converted by Morgan, so 32.16 at no-side. Considering the conditions, this was as good as it gets and Ilkley can be proud of a very good performance against a side that many thought would cause an upset. Results elsewhere saw Heath lose again at Pontefract - Ilkley’s next opponents in two weeks’ time and Harrogate maintain their top of the table status. With Cleckheaton and Alnwick losing again, the league is beginning to take some sort of shape, but there are no easy games in the fixture list so these Dalesmen will have to stay sharp.