Careless Ilkley let 19-point lead slip away as they suffer defeat at Huddersfield (From Ilkley Gazette)
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Careless Ilkley let 19-point lead slip away as they suffer defeat at Huddersfield
Huddersfield YMCA 31 Ilkley 29
Last season, Ilkley twice managed to put 41 points past a youthful YMCA team, which was then newly promoted to Yorkshire Division One. What a difference a year makes, as the hosts’ new recruits were the pivotal players in a revival that had the Ilkley support shuddering at the memory of ‘ that ‘ Castleford reverse in 2010.
Leading 29-10 at half-time, Ilkley were justifiably confident going in to the second half, even if one or two of their four tries were down to mistakes by their opponents, rather than their own creativity.
However, a second-half implosion by the dominant Ilkley forwards, coupled with a somewhat controversial carding of winger Tuli Makaafi, saw the visitors squander their 19-point lead, eventually going down 31-29.
Ilkley’s first try came from good Ilkley rucking, followed by scrum-half Tom Collard feeding Makaafi to score.
Both sides were looking a little rusty, but a Collard penalty cancelled out one by Gavin Stead to leave the score at 8-3 to Ilkley.
Then Ilkley started to turn the screw, with a trademark catch and drive allowing Iain Mackenzie tp touch down sufficiently close to the posts for Tom Collard to slot the conversion.
YMCA then started to put some slick-handling movements together and aided by some lacklustre Ilkley tackling, it came as no surprise when full back Gavin Stead crossed and then converted to bring the score to 15-10.
Ilkley then benefited from two quick tries, both ably converted by Collard. The first came when a hoisted kick from stand-off Craig Barker was misfielded by the defence, allowing new-boy Sam Boot to touch down in the corner and then a great strike against the head in midfield was followed by a deft chip by Barker again.
The ball bounced kindly for Alistair Monks and the half-time whistle saw Ilkley with a seemingly unassailable 29-10 lead.
That Ilkley could then run out of wit, skill and leadership all within a 40 minute period beggars belief. The visitors started the second half under the cosh, but defended well.
The pivotal moment came when a fracas developed on the half-way line involving at least ten players from each side. When the handbags were finally laid to rest, Ilkley winger Makaafi was given a yellow card for throwing a punch. Whilst there is no doubt that this was justified it was not the first transgression by any means.
YMCA’s new boys then took over, their two centres destroying Ilkley’s flaky central defence. Adam Ryder brushed off tackle after tackle to go in under the posts for a the try that was converted by their man of the match, Ed Barber.
Then Ryder ran in a repeat score before number 8 Mark Whitehead sealed Ilkley’s fate to take the score to 31-29
It is hardly credible to report that in the second half, Ilkley were awarded ten penalties. Five of the kicks failed to make touch and of the five that did, every single line-out was either lost, or penalised for a crooked throw.
In the end, Ilkley were fortunate not to have conceded more points and trooped off looking utterly well-beaten. The forwards simply cannot afford to wilt the way they did and allow the opposition back into the game and in the backs, tackling has to improve.
Coaches Rhys Morgan and Neil Spence have their work cut out before the visit of new boys Wath to Stack’s Field on Saturday, as Wath demolished promotion hopefuls Heath 50-6 in their first Yorkshire One match for many years.
In the end though, Ilkley gained two points from the game and one can only hope that the experience will count towards improved performances for the rest of the long season.