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Ilkley find top gear for an hour
10:36am Thursday 17th October 2013 in Sport
Ilkley 25 Selby 17
Ilkley were impressive for an hour and built a winning lead before easing off and allowing their ambitious opponents to hit back in the closing stages.
Once again the fiercely competitive nature of Yorkshire One was evident as Ilkley, who started the game ninth on 15 points, defeated a Selby side three points better off and four places above the Dalesmen.
After this somewhat topsy turvy game which should have been well won by the home side before half time, Ilkley had moved up to fifth and are only a win behind leaders Doncaster Phoenix who they had put to the sword on the first day of the season.
Promoted Selby are full of optimism and are reaping the rewards of a highly-successful junior section with 14 of their 18-man squad having come through the ranks.
It was something of a surprise that they offered so little in virtually all aspects of the game for almost an hour.
However they suddenly discovered their ambition and flair in the final 20 minutes, giving the big Ilkley crowd a nail-biting finale when it seemed the old habit of plucking defeat from the jaws of victory may have taken hold.
Actually the Dalesmen were on top for enough of the game to have been out of sight by the the time Selby began their fight back.
Ilkley were well in command from the off but it was 15 minutes before Craig Barker, who had already missed one penalty shot, landed an unmissable penalty kick under the sticks.
Ilkley just couldn’t turn dominance into tries and they suffered a setback when stand-off Barker was carried off with a suspected broken ankle.
Barker's allowed replacement Tom Collard an opportunity to get back into the thick of things.
His first touch of the ball produced the try that had proved so elusive.
Following a superb passage of play set up by some great work by the forwards, a sweeping move out left found Collard on the wing.
He shimmied and stepped inside his defender to score. His conversion attempt wasn’t quite as elegant.
Still the Dalesmen had an eight point platform on which to build. The almost total dominance of the half continued with Stuart Brewer and Iain McKenzie, making the hard yards only for the ball to be tipped up or an unforced error allowing Selby to escape.
A further rather undignified penalty attempt failed on the stroke of half time as Ilkley had just an eight-point lead which was scant reward for a half so full of promise, graft and enterprise.
Better things would surely materialise for Rhys Morgan's men in the second period. They did.
New stand off Josh Kimber dislodged the ball from a Selby player and Steve Nolson bullocked his way past two and swatted away another to score under the posts for the second try of the match. This one was converted by Kimber. .
A few seconds later Kimber was taking a high ball on his own ten- metre line.
A wonderful long pass found Stuart Vincent in full flight. His pass to flying winger Paul Petchey was right on the button.
Petchey wove a path past two defenders as if they weren’t there and ghosted round the last man standing to score in the corner. It was as good a try as you will see all season.
Kimber's kick was just off target but 20-0 was music to Ilkley ears.
It took a few more minutes for the next score. First a Selby scrum was pushed off the ball and then a Selby line-out was turned over.
As they edged nearer the Selby line the Dalesmen had a line-out of their own which they contrived to lose only for the excellent Tom Baxter to win it back and drive towards the line. He set the ball up superbly for Brewer to score.
Another kick at goal was just short but at 25-0 the Ilkley fans were hoping for a grandstand finish.
They hoped to see a bagful of points in the final quarter. None of them would have predicted that they would come from the visitors.
The penalty count, which had till that point been kept to respectable levels by Ilkley, started to rise.
The whole balance of the game changed. Three excellent tries, two down the wings from Alex Hare and Alex Arthur and and one through the middle from the talismanic Martin Prothero reduced the deficit to 25-17, but Ilkley denied Selby a valuable bonus point by keeping the margin at eight points over the final four minutes while they had Collard in the sin bin. Ilkley fingernails were disappearing rapidly on the well populated terraces.
The Selby response was orchestrated by a suddenly reinvig- orated Dan Porter who led by example throughout an enthralling match and excellent number 8 Matt Wood.
For the record – kept admirably by Selby statistician Stephen Ward – there are some interesting and telling match statistics.
Ilkley’s missed kicks cost them 12 points. The all-important penalty count was even at the hour but finished 12-6 against Ilkley.
The line-outs were contested evenly though Ilkley had 13 to Selby’s 5, and the scrums were settled marginally in Ilkley's favour.
Josh Kimber, a stand off of some stature, enhanced the look of the back line on his debut.
Props Baxter and Cooksey who battered up field and tackled like backs also caught the eye.
Yes, there is still work in progress but this Ilkley side looks more like the real deal each time they play.
A difficult trip to Hipperholme, to face revitalised Old Brodleians who are just one point adrift of the Dalesmen awaits this week.
Coach Morgan will be fully employed during his preparations by trying to reduce the penalty count.
l Ed Brown is the first winner of Ilkley’s trainer of the month award which is sponsored by The Crescent.
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