Pontefract 5 Ilkley 54
As Pontefract’s match-programme pointed out at some length, Moor Lane has not been a happy hunting ground for Ilkley, the Dalesmen never having won there in league rugby – at least until Saturday.
This unhappy record was shattered though, when Ilkley’s second-half blitz of tries served to further demoralise the home side, who succumbed to a 54-5 defeat. The win was not quite big enough to overtake Dinnington at the top of Yorkshire One, though the points difference is now only eight and third-placed Doncaster Phoenix are seven match points behind.
Ilkley know they should have had this game put to bed by half time, but a frenetic first 15 minutes, when Pontefract showed they were not prepared to roll over that easily, coupled with quite a few unforced errors, saw the visitors’ lead limited to just 12-0 after 40 minutes.
It was only when the Dalesmen started to kick for the corners that their superiority began to show and the two Ilkley tries both came from well-taken Tom Collard penalties, which each gained 40 metres.
These were followed by two line-out wins and the inevitable maul towards Pontefract’s goal-line. Stu Brewer claimed both touchdowns, the second being close enough to the posts to make Josh Kimber’s kick a formality, the first having brushed a post.
Gus Ramsey was given a yellow card after 26 minutes for an innocuous offside offence, but Ilkley weathered the storm well, the only Pontefract attack being repulsed, allowing Collard to clear his lines.
Another Collard penalty almost led to another Ilkley score from the resultant line-out, but mishandling in the backs and a hoof downfield lost the visitors 80 metres.
With Ramsey back on, Paul Petchey was unlucky to be stopped only five metres out shortly afterwards.
Five minutes into the second half, Ilkley clicked into gear and the moves started to come good.
First winger J-H Johnson was unlucky with a final pass after Brewer had stolen the ball from Pontefract’s diminutive scrum-half Matthew Hargreaves and then the flanker was held up over the line.
From the scrum, the ever-alert Ryan Cooper added Ilkley’s third try, Kimber slotting the kick.
From an almost identical position five minutes later, Collard provided the spectators with some unusual juggling skills before finally adding Ilkley’s bonus point try as the lead grew to 26-0.
To their credit, Pontefract came back into the fray and a great run by prop James Griffin, well into the Ilkley 22, was nullified when the ball was spilled.
The Dalesmen’s backs saw their opportunity and Paul Petchey ran a full 80 metres to score under the posts.
Still the home side would not lie down and another good run by Griffin, aided by the tireless Matt Williams, ended this time with a well-deserved try for hard-working centre Chris Sant.
With a quarter of an hour to go though, that was it for a tiring home side.
Ilkley made Pontefract suffer for their lack of fitness with two more tries for the excellent Brewer and one for battling prop, Tom Baxter – a very popular score. With Kimber converting all three to take his tally for the day seven, Ilkley finished with a healthy-looking 54-5 win.
Ilkley used all their replacements well and Kimber looked comfort-able at centre as Collard continued at stand-off.
As the pitches dry out, Ilkley will have to revert to their fast and open game a bit more, but they do have the backs to do it.