Billingham 29 Ilkley 30

ILKLEY clawed back a 19-point half-time deficit to snatch their fourth North Premier League win of the season with a last-gasp penalty from Charles Morgan.

Billingham, playing on their new 4G pitch, raced into a 22-3 half-time lead against an Ilkley team looking out of sorts.

The home side were winning ball with alacrity and moving it at speed down along their skilful back line.

Billingham looked more polished than any of Ilkley’s previous opponents.

The first try saw winger Martin Hopley go in at the corner, but Charles Morgan cut the deficit with a penalty.

Ilkley squandered two good scoring chances. The first was after they won a line-out close to the Billingham line but were penalised for holding on.

The second came after Billingham were penalised for back chat to the referee. Ilkley’s forward’s drove for the line but were held up.

The two missed chances seemed to put the Dalesmen in some disarray and uncharacteristic handling errors and missed tackles allowed man mountain Dan Dixon to breach the defence and put Hopley in for his second try which was converted for a 12-3 lead.

Dixon blasted through to add a try of his own after a tackle in the air had coughed up a penalty.

Steve Burns was called on to replace Joe Lowes who had a hip injury.

Another penalty for holding brought a team warning from referee Wagner and saw the lead increased to 22-3.

Things could have been worse for the Dalesmen as they knocked on with the line begging.

Whatever coaches Rhys Morgan and Nathan Smith said at half-time certainly brought about a dramatic response.

Another piece of magic from Ben Magee gave them hope. His chip and chase was sublime as he raced in for a try after Chris Gemmell put him into a yard of space.

The Ilkley cheers had barely died away when Magee gained possession on his own ten-metre line.

He shot through holes in the Billingham defence, engaged another gear and outpaced the shell-shocked remnants of Bill's defence to score. Charles Morgan’s second successful conversion cut the deficit to five points.

Ilkley were in the mood and a third try soon followed. The Dalesmen disrupted a Billingham scrum on in their own 22 and Martyn Mitchell broke to half way to set up a great move that was finished off by young Blake Morgan. Incredibly, Ilkley were 24-22 ahead.

Bill began to lose their composure. Dan Dixon was yellow carded for a shoulder charge on Pat Power.

Ilkley were up for more and Charles Morgan landed a penalty

Billingham came back at Ilkley once they were restored to 15 men. The defensive line held firm, but the visitors suffered a blow when Dan Lawrence received a yellow card.

The Ilkley line came under siege and Dixon broke through for a try which was converted to edge Billingham 29-27 ahead with eight minutes to go.

Ilkley weren’t going to lie down. Charles Morgan saw two penalties go narrowly wide.

Finally, with the last play of the match, Ilkley’s pressure was rewarded as Billingham were penalised.

Despite some of his colleagues being unable to watch, Charles Morgan held his nerve and kicked the goal that sealed a courageous win.