Dalesmen defend proud record against in-form Selby

Iain McKenzie, left, leads an Ilkley drive supported by hooker Steve Graham, right. against Scarborough. Picture: ruggerpix.com

Iain McKenzie, left, leads an Ilkley drive supported by hooker Steve Graham, right. against Scarborough. Picture: ruggerpix.com

First published in Sport Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Weeklies Sports Editor

Ilkley’s water-tight defence is set to face a tough test on Saturday.

The Yorkshire One leaders have conceded only one try in their last five games.

But their trip to Selby on Saturday pits them against an in-form outfit who have climbed to fourth in the table.

Ilkley’s total of 212 points against is easily the best in the league and they want to keep it that way.

The quality of their defence has been a key feature in their run of 11 straight wins.

But head of rugby Rhys Morgan is anxious that his side is not considered to be cautious or dull.

He said: “We are capable of playing good attacking rugby and we have scored some good tries, but it is all about getting the right balance.

“We pride ourselves on working hard to keep our opponents from crossing our line.

“Equally, we also look to move the ball and attack at the right times.”

Morgan was pleased with the way his players battled back from 6-0 down at half-time to win 13-6 at Scarborough last Saturday.

The East Coast side had drawn 17-17 at Stacks Field earlier in the season so the victory was valued by Ilkley.

“Scarborough are a strong side and they certainly tested us. By all accounts, Selby are playing good rugby and will present us with another tough game.

“We have to make sure we prepare ourselves properly and are ready because they will be wanting to keep their own good run going,” said Morgan.

One player who will definitely miss the trip to Selby is their influential flanker Iain McKenzie.

He limped off with a knee injury at Scarborough and Ilkley are still waiting to find out how long he will out of action. “It’s a big blow, but injuries are a part of the game and we have to deal with them,” added Morgan.

“Gus Ramsay and Charlie Davy are both capable of coming in and doing a good job so we do have replacements ready who can step in.

“Gus was unfortunate to lose his place when Pete Small returned to the side so he will be looking for a chance to play.”

Ilkley will be monitoring the fitness of scrum half Ryan Cooper at training tonight after he missed the Scarborough game through illness.

He trained on Tuesday and Ilkley are hopeful that he will be back in contention to face Selby.

Tom Collard deputised for Cooper at Scarborough and earned praise from Morgan. “It isn’t easy coming in when you have had little game time, but Tom did well for us.”

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