Ilkley 38 Scarborough 10
Two weeks after securing the Yorkshire Division One title Ilkley lifted the Yorkshire Shield to complete an impressive double.
Scarborough, who were the only side to avoid defeat at Stacks Field this season when they drew 17-17, were expected to provide a stern test at Clifton Park, York, and for an hour the game was close fought.
The seasiders, who were without their captain, Phil Watson, battled hard to keep Ilkley at bay until the Dalemen’s superior fitness and organisation told in the last quarter.
In this final period, Ilkley ran in three tries and moved the score from 17-10 to a final tally of 38-10.
It might be said that this score somewhat flattered Ilkley, but Scarborough did not help them-selves with some poor decision-making and crucially, losing left-wing Harry Dommet for ten minutes for a punch on J-H Johnson in the act of scoring on the hour.
Ilkley started the match briskly and when they won a penalty they opted to kick for touch. The line-out was won, the ball switched from right to left, but a knock-on halted their advance.
It proved to be a temporary reprieve for Scarborough. When their scrum buckled Josh kimber kicked the penalty to the corner. This time, Ilkley resorted to their tried and tested Plan A, a catch and drive giving Stewart Brewer his 30th try of the season, sweetly converted by Kimber.
The Seasiders responded with vigour and after stand-off Phil Stewart’s drop-goal attempt sailed wide, Ilkley were penalised, giving full-back Tom Harrison the chance to reduce the deficit. The kick was pulled left though.
Another Scarborough assault was deemed to have been halted illegally and Harrison failed with his second attempt, the score remaining at 7-0.
Better luck followed though, when Brewer was given ten minutes in the sin bin and from the resulting catch and drive, Nino Cutino was on hand to touch down and Harrison’s third attempt at goal was successful, levelling the scores. These were the first points Ilkley had conceded in the competition in what was their fourth match.
The action swung from end to end in the second quarter, though Ilkley’s backs were looking sharper than the opposition’s and a couple of good moves involving Paul Petchey, Alastair Monks and Stuart Vincent piled pressure on the Scarborough defence.
With Brewer back on, a fine passing movement allowed skipper Stuart Vincent a try on the right wing which Kimber was unable to convert.
Ilkley made a sloppy start to the second half when they made a hash of fielding the kick off and quickly conceded a penalty, duti-fully slotted by Harrison to bring the score to 12-10.
Some great defence by Scar-borough, notably by flankers Matty Oxtoby and Dale Night-ingale, kept Ilkley out, but within five minutes, another catch and drive saw prop Tom Baxter emerge from a pile of bodies to claim the try.
It was then Ilkley’s turn to be under the cosh as Scarborough worked their socks off to break through Yorkshire One’s meanest defence. Tom Ratcliffe came on and booted his side first to ten metres out, then to five, but a knock-on, seemingly in the act of scoring saved Ilkley.
This respite did not last long, as Steve Burns got a yellow card for infringing under the posts but Scarborough amazingly spurned the chance of three points and went for a tap and run. The ball was eventually passed into touch and the chance was lost. This episode seemed to be the turning point in the match.
Centre Steve Nolson made a great break from defence and it was not long before Ilkley’s growing superiority told and from a maul, the ball was flashed out by Ryan Cooper reaching Johnson, who bulldozed his way over in the corner. Kimber’s conversion made it 24-10 and each side was now down to 14 men as Harry Domett was carded for a punch.
Then after a five-metre scrum was well-controlled by Ilkley, Cooper saw his chance and darted over on the left, Kimber adding the extras two points to put the game beyond a tiring Scarborough.
With Burns back on, coach Rhys Morgan used up all his available substitutes to give them a taste of the action and with two minutes to go, Cooper strolled over for his second try after a rock-solid scrum. Kimber’s conversion completed the scoring at 38-10 and the game petered out.
This was a marvellous advertisement for amateur Rugby Union, which was enjoyed by the many supporters who had travelled from the Dales and the East Coast. The Scarborough team was most gracious in defeat and their supporters too, acknowl-edged that on this occasion, they had lost to the better side.
So, a long, successful season which has witnessed the rebirth of Ilkley as a force to be reckoned with, is over, The double success is a rewarded for the dedication of the players, coaching staff and committee.
Ilkley must now consider how to strengthen their squad and cope with the possible retirement or relocation of one or two players while their supporters must get used to travelling on the A1 to strange and exotic places as the Dalesmen take their place in North One East – after celebrating the double of course!