Ilkley lay North Ribblesdale bogey but miss bonus and lose top spot

Ilkley Gazette: Pete Small scores the first try Buy this photo » Pete Small scores the first try

North Ribblesdale 0 Ilkley 17

Well it wasn’t pretty, but it was very satisfying, Ilkley finally shaking off the Ribblesdale hoodoo and winning comfortably.

But the lack of a fourth try meant that Doncaster Phoenix leapfrogged the Dalesmen to head Yorkshire One by just one point, with Wath, who visit Stacks Field on Saturday, lying third, three points behind.

The Ilkley travelling support arrived at the Settle ground to learn that last week’s star Josh Kimber had called off due to pressure of work at university while prop Jon Cooksey was still recovering from a minor operation.

Tom Collard and Jon Hutchinson were their respective replacements while Pete Small made a welcome return in the pack.

Ilkley made their intentions clear from the start, forcing Ribblesdale back into their own 22 .

These efforts were rewarded with a penalty, but Collard’s effort hit the post and the home side cleared.

However, the early pressure eventually told and after a couple of drives deep in the home 22, Ryan Cooper went down the blindside before passing to Small, who did well to stretch and touch down.

Unfortunately for Ilkley, Collard’s kick brushed the other post, leaving the score at 5-0 Under the cosh again in their own half, the two Ribblesdale centres dithered too long in clearing the imminent danger and centre Steve Nolson scooped up the ball and ran in unopposed under the posts.

Collard didn’t miss this time and Ilkley were 12-0 ahead and in control of the game.

The damp conditions affected the handling of both sides, though Ribblesdale’s threats were so sporadic that it looked as if Ilkley were making all the mistakes.

Certainly, the half-time lead should have been higher than 12-0, though Steve Moon had attempted an ambitious penalty to get his side onto the scoreboard.

The home side’s half-time talk clearly worked wonders, as their pack – already the match of Ilkley’s in the set pieces – started to boss the break-down areas and for quite some time, Ilkley simply could not get their hands on the ball.

However, their defence held firm and Ribblesdale’s period of suprem- acy ended as the game entered the last quarter.

Ilkley’s backs were on top of their counterparts throughout and winger Paul Petchey was unlucky not to score after good work by Steve Burns and Collard took play to the Ribblesdale goal line.

Then Stu Brewer was penalised over the line for a double movement and the danger was cleared again.

New boy Matt Lovett replaced injured Ilkley skipper Stuart Vincent and within five minutes he had scored a try.

Great forward and back interplay saw the Ilkley side queuing up to score on the left wing.

This was no less than the Ilkley side deserved and whilst the conversion was missed, there was no way that Ribblesdale were going to get anything out of the game, as they were trailing by 17 points.

All credit to the Settle men though, as they repulsed Ilkley’s assaults time after time and with the benefit of hindsight, surely the answer was for the forwards to have thrown the ball out to the backs, where the visitors were superior.

Despite this criticism, most of the Ilkley supporters would have taken this score before kick off.

Preventing the opposition from scoring at all is always pleasing.

Whether this can be done at the last match of the year on Saturday against Wath remains to be seen.

The Dalesmen were trounced in South Yorkshire back in September and have a chance to put the record straight.

A home win would put daylight between the two teams and with the first two matches of the new year being against Keighley and Heath, there is a great opportunity for Ilkley to consolidate their position in the top two.

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