Ilkley 24 Rossendale 27

ILKLEY’S quest for the season’s first bonus points ended on Saturday at Stacks Field, when not just one but two arrived, unfortunately they were also accompanied by a first North Premier defeat.

There was also a pair of tries from the magical Ben Magee when Ilkley went close to snatching a victory that had looked unlikely for much of the game.

The Dalesmen earned a point for their four sparkling tries and another for losing by fewer than seven points.

Bizarrely, this propelled them back up to third in the table, whereas last week’s stunning win away at Billingham saw them drop a place.

Ilkley’s pack had change enforced on it by unavailabilities. Young Billy Nicholls made his debut alongside veteran Jon Hutchinson.

Steve Burns started in the second row with coach Nathan Smith on the bench.

Inevitably, the disruption told and the Ilkley eight were given a tough time, though the visitors’ hard men didn’t quite have it all their own way.

Though giving away a good few kilos per man, Ilkley’s back row of Pat Power, Joe Lowes and JH Johnson were tireless in both attack and defence while the line-out worked reasonably well.

Ilkley’s winger Josh Hall opened the scoring when a miss-move

created the chance for him to finish in impressive style.

Stout defence kept the visitors at bay until a poor line-out by Ilkley gifted No.8 Ryan McKibben a try which was converted by Lewis Allen.

Ilkley’s response was good and Magee’s first foray was an appetiser of things to come.

Fielding a clearance kick deep in his own half, the young tyro made fully 70m before being hauled him down ten metres from the line.

Two phases later and there was the supporting Chris Gemmell on hand to touch down to establish a 10-7 lead.

Rossendale stepped up their game and were rewarded when stand-off Tom Leader spotted a gap in the defence and went for it. The try was converted.

Over robust tackling gave Ilkley a penalty, but Charles Morgan’s attempt came off the post the wrong way and then it was Ilkley’s turn to incur Mr Morrison’s displeasure as they were penalised on the halfway line for entering a ruck dangerously.

The kick to touch was followed by a well-worked line-out which led to flanker Jordan Lord burrowing over for his side’s third try, again converted by the reliable Allen.

Ilkley found themselves 21-10 down at the break and faced an uphill task, similar to the one they conquered at Billingham in their previous game.

Rossendale started the second half strongly and dominated the scrum and line-out. Only some ferocious tackling kept them out.

Almost from nowhere they conjured up some magic. Great work by Steve Burns and JH Johnson set up the move that ended with Magee claiming his first touchdown after some silky running. Charles Morgan's conversion reduced the deficit to 21-17.

Within a minute from the restart, there was Magee again, latching on to a pass from Pat Power and scorching through the visitors’ defence for the bonus-point try. Charles Morgan’s successful kick put his side into the lead, 24-21

This state of affairs did not last long, as Rossendale earned a penalty well within Allen’s range and the scores were level.

With ten minutes left, both sides threw everything they had at each other.

A clever probing kick from Allen reached Ilkley’s 20m line and a perfect throw in was required.

This was duly delivered, but from the next ruck, Ilkley were penalised for handling and over went Allen’s penalty, putting his side back into the lead.

Rossendale tried hard to run the clock down, setting up phase after phase in their own half, but when they knocked on, Ilkley had a glimmer of hope.

The scrum won, Rossendale infringed illegally on their ten-metre line and the penalty was awarded.

With seconds to go, the decision to run the ball was made and so nearly resulted in a winning try, but it was not to be and referee Morrison blew for time.