North Premier League: Morley 15 Ilkley 24

THE Yorkshire weather played no small part in Ilkley’s second visit to Scatcherd Lane and, having done the double over the Maroons last season and coming off the back of a fine win over Kendal, the Dalesmen were pre-match favourites.

However, the hosts, backed by a vociferous crowd, had other ideas and made Ilkley scrap for every point on their way to a second victory of the campaign.

Those not under cover had two drenchings during the 80 minutes, and this clearly affected the handling of both sides.

By the end of the match there had been 30 scrums, at least half of which were for handling errors.

Morley seized the initiative in the first ten minutes, winning a heel against the head in their third attack.

Maroons skipper Mark Chester soon kicked for position and when Ben Magee found himself without support, the ball was held onto too long for referee Elliot Lewis’s liking.

Chester kicked for a line-out, won it and two phases later second row Martin Protheroe crashed over for the first score of the day, Chester’s conversion attempt hitting a post.

A well-controlled Ilkley maul then made 15 metres before it was ilegally halted illegally, Charles Morgan popping over the kick to make it 5-3.

Again from the kick-off, Ilkley’s J-H Johnson, relishing the contact opportunities at No 8, barged through central midfield to set up a ruck, crisp handling feeding Tom Milner, whose well-timed pass put Chris Gemmell over to the left of the posts, with Morgan's conversion making it 10-5.

Then down came the rain and up went the handling errors as the weather bossed the game.

Ilkley had the best of the remaining ten minutes of the half, but, despite some good breaks, notably by Magee and Will Davis, they couldn’t turn pressure into points and Ilkley went in at half-time five points up.

With handling errors abounding, a knock-on by Ilkley gave Morley a scrum, followed by a sustained assault on the Ilkley 22.

Eventually, despite some fierce tackling, Ilkley offended at the breakdown and Chester slotted the resulting penalty to make it 10-8.

The next score went Ilkley’s way after a couple of bizarre incidents. A penalty won, Morgan attempted a drop goal, but the ball failed to gain anything like the altitude required.

The Morley defence, however, obligingly knocked-on five metres under their posts and Ilkley had a scrum.

This was won, and scrum half Jack Maplesden got his pass out left. Morgan put through a delicate chip that the Morley defence seemed to have covered, but a fresh-air fly hack to touch gave Milner the chance to  touch down.

Morgan’s conversion was a beauty to make it 17-8.

Morley, aided by a particularly dire passage of play from an Ilkley point of view, came back with a vengeance.

An Ilkley knock-on from the kick-off, a penalty conceded for sealing off, then another for handling in a ruck eventually led to replacement Josh Bird strolling through some pretty shabby tackling to score a try that Chester converted to make it 17-15.

Waking up from this bad dream, Ilkley suddenly regained their composure.

As Morley seemed to be tiring, Maplesden sent out a lovely pass from the base of a ruck to the onrushing Magee, who in turn fed Josh Hall to run a try in under the posts, with Morgan converting.