Hull 31 Ilkley 25

A COLD, bright Autumn afternoon at the Ferens Ground provided the perfect setting for a cracking game of rugby, preceded by a respectful minute’s silence for Armistice Day.

Unfortunately, the Dalesmen recorded another loss, but once again secured two points with a particularly gutsy second-half performance.

Hull led 24-10 at the interval which proved decisive, but Ilkley made them work hard for the win.

Widely tipped to win at a canter, Hull’s initial attacks were repelled with startling ferocity and Ilkley made a good few sorties themselves which were rewarded after 15 minutes with a gem of a try from Charles Morgan, who had initiated the move in his own half.

JH Johnson made a welcome return at number eight for Ilkley and made the first of several fine breaks from the base of the scrum, but Hull countered strongly.

The pressure eventually told when Hull’s Lee Birch finished a good move wide on the left.

Ilkley came back well from the kick-off and Ben Magee was afforded his first run at the opposition, earning a penalty that Charles Morgan kicked for position.

Hull conceded a penalty or two and eventually, having gone close on three or four occasions, Johnson fed Tom Milner from a scrum for the winger to break through the Hull defence for his side’s second try on the half-hour mark to establish a 10-5 lead.

Dealing with kick-offs has been a problem this season for Ilkley and having made a bit of a hash of Hull’s next one, a scrum was eventually conceded under the posts.

Ilkley infringed and a quick tap by Harvey Harding saw the ball whizz along the line for Tomasi Tanumi to score in the corner. This time, Reece Dean’s conversion sailed over for a 12-10 lead.

Hull then piled on the pressure and when Ilkley were penalised for a double movement, Dean kicked for touch.

Ilkley collapsed the maul and Billy Nicholls, deputising for the injured Ollie Holtham, saw yellow. A penalty try was awarded and Pat Power departed with a dislocated thumb.

The hosts took full advantage of the extra man and an almost identical move gave Hull’s number eight Joe Stafford a touch-down, which Dean failed to improve upon.

The Ilkley support feared the worst when Hull scored early in the second half, winger Stephen Hiehetah powering through some sub-standard tackling to go over under the posts. Dean’s simple conversion put his side 21 points ahead.

Still playing with 14 men, Ilkley surged back and were rewarded when Charles Morgan slotted a rare drop-goal and when Nicholls was finally allowed back on after what seemed a great deal more than ten minutes, Ilkley were able to up their game.

Another good pick-up by Johnson and a well-timed pass to Magee put the full-back into overdrive for a fine individual try, close enough to the posts for Charles Morgan to kick the goal.

Now it was Hull’s turn to soak up the pressure. Blake Morgan’s break lacked sufficient support and his speculative chip came to nothing, but Ilkley’s next display of great handling in the backs led to the bonus-point try.

Another Johnson pick-up and pass set Magee free. He made 30 metres before passing to the supporting Elliot Morgan.

The Ilkley skipper was tackled just short of the line, but managed to get his pass away for his fellow-centre Luke Freer to dot down as the deficit was reduced to 31-25.

Ilkley then had to defend this position of two bonus points in the bag, or even go for the win. Their tackling remained impressive: twice Hull were held up over the line and twice the resultant scrums were repelled.

Then from a break-out, Ilkley were penalised for holding. Up stepped Dean, but a horrible slice meant the visitors clung on to their two points.