ILKLEY went down to defeat but gained a deserved bonus point in 38-22 loss at Rossendale.

Ilkley travelled to Rossendale on a wet and windy day having won three home matches and lost two away league matches in Yorkshire Premier this season.

The rain ceased by the kick-off and the wind, although gutsy, abated somewhat.

A specific feature of the Marl Pits hillside pitch was the slopes; one across the field and an eight-feet drop from end to end.

Using the slopes and dealing with the gusts was an issue for all the players.

The end result was a win for the home side by virtue of six tries to four and four conversions to one.

Whilst both teams sought open play when in possession, Rossendale’s physical and professional technique prevailed to a degree in inhibiting the visitors.

They also effectively utilised a ploy of using their heavy-duty forwards to carry the ball in attacking from rucks and mauls, whilst Ilkley’s quickly taken tapped penalties and free kicks worked well in maintaining their attacking tempo.

This was despite the penalty count being surprisingly adverse for the visitors.

Ilkley have to learn to adapt to the respective referee’s focus and interpretation.

However, “over-vigorous play” was not firmly policed and at least two red card offences went unpenalised.

A notable low-light was a right cross from one of the home locks, which would have graced a heavy-weight bout and delivered in front of the referee, went unaddressed.

In the first 40 minutes each team only got into the opposition’s half from kick-offs, three times each and on each occasion a try resulted after periods of sustained pressure and committed defence.

At half-time the score was 19-15. Ilkley’s tries were scored by Struan Connor (two) and Max McKay.

One of Connor’s tries was taken after the one yellow card was issued, this for one of the several dangerous tackles.

Although Rossendale had seemingly recovered from the resultant penalty award a brilliant interception saw him race through at pace.

In the second period though, both teams worked their way into the opposition’s half.

Rossendale stretched their lead with three more tries, one of which was converted, whereas Ilkley mustered a converted try scored by Charles Ramsay.

This made the final score of 38-22 and the fourth try secured Ilkley a deserved bonus point.

The final point is on “duty of care” by the officials. Ilkley are playing semi-professional clubs in this league coming up against experienced players who have played at an even higher level.

It is imperative at this level that foul play is consistently addressed to avoid injury. On this occasion with a stronger official the number of players on the pitch at the end would have lower.