Ilkley 2nds 25 Wharfedale Foresters 27

THE Yorkshire Merit Premiership title decider proved to be a close-fought affair with the defending champions winning by a narrow margin.

It was a game liberally scattered with sublime rugby, a host of forced and unforced errors, some questionable refereeing decisions and plenty of blood and guts to entertain the crowd.

Foresters took the early initiative and moved into a ten-point lead, firstly from a driven line-out which resulted in a try for scrum half Jake Parkinson.

Then a second after a superb move left, then right and a great looping pass for winger Olly Whyte to score.

Ilkley then found a belief and forced the play back into dale's half. Martin Mitchell and Charlie Scott combined to put Luke Freer in for a try.

A somewhat fortuitous Foresters penalty was taken quickly and Andy Rhodes produced a chip and chase which gave Parkinson his second try.

Ilkley responded with Freer and Chris McKenna combining from distance to reduce the deficit to 15-10.

Freer the pounced onto a loose ball to hack forward and win the chase to the line to bring the scores level.

A Charlie Ramsey penalty, the only successful kick of the half, gave Ilkley tan 18-15 half-time lead.

The second half was not such a scoring spectacle, but was nonetheless absorbing and entertaining.

Ilkley had to withstand some serious pressure, some self inflicted. Rhodes finally sneaking over in the corner for Foresters.

More tough exchanges followed but the champions seemed to have clinched the match after a line-out on halfway set up a superb break through the middle as Ilkley for once forgot to tackle Rhodes as he raced away.

Ilkley needed two scores and a couple of missed penalty attempts failed to reduce the margin.

Ramsey was sure he had scored as he ghosted over from the 22. Unsighted, the referee had no alternative than to rule held up.

Jack DeAth did however get a well-deserved try to reduce the deficit to two points.

That was it and the Forresters headed back up the Dale with maximum points in the bag.

Ilkley will rue a golden chance gone to dislodge the crown from their neighbours' heads.