Wath-Upon-Dearne 45 Ilkley 6
What a difference a week makes. Just seven days after producing a gritty display to defeat Doncaster Phoenix, the lack-lustre Dalesmen were crushed in South Yorkshire.
Poor defence and a lack of discipline made it a miserable trip for the Ilkley faithful.
The penalty count was heavily against the visitors which was no reflection on the performance of the astute referee Brian Mulli- gan .
It was a return to reality as Wath's smart new pitch was still in the tenure of the cricket team, so the game had to take place on what was their old second pitch.
To be honest it was not up to the standards expected in Yorkshire One with narrow touches due to overhanging trees and poor spectator facilities. But, it was the same for both sides and can in no way excuse the Ilkley performance.
The final score was 45 points to 6. For the record it comprised six tries, three conversions, one drop goal and two penalties.
Only two of the tries came in the first half. The first, after five minutes, was notable for poor defending by Ilkley notwithstanding the excellent build up and execution by Wath. It was finished by the superb Martin Bray.
The second followed an intercepted pass just as Ilkley seemed to be building a head of steam.
It finally came from a drive from a line-out close in, prop Simon Butterworth touching down.
Both tries were converted by Andrew Appleyard who has been recruited this season from relegated Barns- ley.
He is a good acquisition of that there is no doubt. He added a penalty and a drop goal to his first-half tally.
Ilkley's only riposte was a long-range penalty goal from Tom Collard on the stroke of half-time to give the Dales- men just a glimmer of hope that the slope and a vastly improved performance could reverse fortunes.
The 17-3 deficit was not an insurmountable mountain to climb – at least for the most optimistic among the Ilkley supporters.
Wath had comprehensively outplayed the visitors but had not got away totally due to two fine pieces of defending by Elliott Morgan who looks an outstanding prospect in both defence and attack.
Kiwi Chad Harris' debut was encouraging too. What a shame it should be on such a nondescript occasion both in respect of venue and team performance.
Half-time came as something of a relief. Coach Rhys Morgan had to do something to get his charges back into the game.
Tom Baxter, Temour Ahmed and Ryan Cooper were soon pitched in but things went from bad to worse.
The tone for the second half was set early on as a penalty, initially awarded to Ilkley, was reversed for stamping and sent back a further ten metres for back-chat.
Appleyard and Collard exchanged penalties to maintain the deficit, but then yet another penalty allowed Wath to make touch ten metres out. The drive, Ilkley style, from the line-out produced the killer try.
There was no way back now.
Another intercepted pass as Ilkley tried to chase the game put Wath further ahead as, Bray scored again.
Appleyard added yet another penalty goal to make it 33-6.
With Ben Fear and Steve Graham injured Morgan’s options were diminishing as were Ilkley’s hopes of keeping a respectable score- sheet.
It is at stages in games like this that luck too runs against you. A fortuitous bounce of a high ball into no-man's land evaded both Stuart Vincent and JH Johnson but fell nicely into Wath winger Tom Quinn’s hands to give the home side another try.
Now the midges were biting and the Ilkley faithful were willing Mr Mulligan’'s sympathy to end the game but there was to be no relief from the midges or the pain as Wath turned over an Ilkley scrum to earn a penalty.
They kicked to touch and drove over for a try from the line-out.
It sealed Ilkley’s worst defeat for syearss. The only consolation was that they did not concede 50 points.
Let’s hope this proves to be an aberration and normal service can be resumed.
Morgan and the team have some galvanising to do