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Victory is a bonus for lack-lustre Ilkley
Ilkley 32, Heath 20
Ilkley cruised to their third-successive Yorkshire Division One win and ran in five tries without ever being at their best at Stacks Field on Saturday.
They have now bagged the bonus point in each of their four league matches and lie third in the table headed only by the unbeaten pair of Huddersfield YMCA and Bridlington.
It is a measure of the progress they are making that they could win with ease when there were areas of their game which didn’t function as they would like.
The forwards, who are used to dominating their opponents, found themselves under pressure in the scrum, while possession from the line-out was often untidy with too much of it being tapped rather than cleanly caught.
They even conceded a penalty try early in the second half after Heath opted for four successive scrums when Ilkley were penalised for transgressions by referee David Lindsay from South Yorkshire
The referee didn’t hesitate in going under the posts after the fourth scrum collapsed Giles Etherington’s conversion of the penalty try levelled the scores at 10-10, but Ilkley then made victory safe with four tries in 26 minutes Heath, who have now lost all four of their league games, arrived at Stacks Field having been hammered 79-10 at Scarborough on their previous outing.
When stand off Mike Cachia kicked a second-minute penalty they might have feared the worst, but they levelled the score after 15 minutes with an Etherington penalty.
Ilkley’s first try came on the half hour. Cachia showed his eye for an opening as he capitalised on good scrum ball in the Heath 22, to stroll over Cachia added the conversion, but missed a straightforward penalty a minute later, so Ilkley had to be content with a 10-3 half-time lead.
Nathan Bland replaced Chris Chapman in the back row for the second half, and he had hardly had time to make his presence felt when Heath drew level through the award of the penalty try.
Heath prop Chris Moore was yellow carded in the 52nd minute for a high tackle and while he was serving his ten minutes in the sin bin, Ilkley took the lead. Skipper Stuart Vincent joined the line at pace from full back and raced through the fragile Heath defence to score.
Heath were back to full strength when Ilkley struck again. Scrum half Tom Collard seized on quick line-out ball to score an opportunist’s try.
Etherington’s second penalty reduced the lead to 20-13, but Ilkley were soon on the attack again.
Craig Barker, who has dovetailed nicely into the inside centre position, exploited a gap in the tiring Heath defence to score the bonus-point try.
Cachia, who had missed the previous two conversions, added the extra two points, before taking his personal points tally to 17 with his second try in the 78th minute. With Cachia’s goalkicking radar awry, Collard took the final conversion and was off target.
Sloppy defending from the final play of the game saw Heath winger Luke Clogher break clear for a try which Etherington converted.
It somehow summed up an afternoon where Ilkley weren’t as clinical as they might like, but they still won comfortably. It’s a quality that promotion sides usually possess. Could this be Ilkley’s year? Well we might have a better idea after Saturday’s trip to Scarborough.
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