ILKLEY were beaten 32-8 in a convincing display by Alnwick at Stacks Field on Saturday.

A beautiful autumn day in the Wharfe Valley proved to be a greater incentive to the visitors, themselves from a most attractive area of England, than the home side, who were totally outplayed in just about all departments.

Widely tipped to get hammered, Alnwick contrived to thwart everything that Ilkley could throw at them, which frankly, wasn’t a great deal.

The visitors’ tackle count was immense and despite some heroic performances from Pat Power and Ilkley’s man of the match, Max McKay, the Northumbrians cruised to a deserved 32-8 win, sending the Dalesmen down to a worrying tenth place.

Not that Ilkley didn’t know what to do, looking poised and confident, ball in hand – it was more a lack of penetration that eventually cost them the game – plus some poor decision making and the odd costly individual error.

Callum Burn’s early penalty, earned when Ilkley held on to the ball too long, opened the scoring, but it was a further 20 minutes and after some end to end play that the first try of the day was recorded.

Ilkley had looked vulnerable in the scrum and when the ball was flashed out left, centre Rob Cuthbert had the easiest of touch-downs.

Ilkley’s composed play looked to have begun to control the game, but when Ed Brown’s kick was charged down, Alnwick took full advantage as replacement Jake Woods took the opportunity to score his side’s second try. The conversion was duly despatched to give the visitors a 15-0 lead.

Ilkley’s kick-off didn’t go ten, though Alnwick were not able to gain much ground from the resultant scrum as the home defence stood firm.

They did, however, make the most of Ilkley’s next error, when the ball was lost in the tackle and good hands by the Alnwick backs had the ball moving first left, then back right.

They won a ruck under the Ilkley posts and was prop Craig Greer on hand to pick his spot to score. The conversion attempt missed but it was 20-0 to the visitors.

What little remained of the first half went Ilkley’s way, only a dropped pass preventing a score on the far right before Mr Hurdley’s whistle blew for half-time.

The second half started well for the home side, retaining possession for a full five minutes of uninterrupted play, before Alnwick strayed offside, handing the opportunity for Charles Ramsey to reduce the deficit by three points. His kick finally put Ilkley on the scoreboard.

Unfortunately, Ilkley could not maintain this momentum and did not to score again for another half hour, by which time it was way too late.

Alnwick continued their workmanlike approach, offloading well and smashing into Ilkley’s attacks.

Ilkley lost scrum and from the resulting melee, scrum-half Simon Ord darted over from close range to secure the bonus-point try. Burn’s conversion made it 27-3.

Alnwick further increased their lead when the Ilkley defence went walkabout and prop Greer bagged his second, swatting off some fairly feeble tackling attempts to score on the left wing. No conversion, but a lead of 32-3 was certainly going to be enough.

Alnwick were now in cruise-mode, with Ilkley chasing shadows. Peter Erskine had replaced Stephen Burns and with Chris Gemmel making a welcome return off the bench, Ilkley started to get back into the game, having spent long periods in their own half.

A touch-kick from a penalty following a bit of a fracas got Ilkley into the Alnwick 22 for the first time in what seemed a very long time.

The line was won well and a couple of rucks later, Erskine crashed over in the corner for a well-taken try. No conversion though and that completed the afternoon’s scoring.

There was time for Ilkley to lose another scrum against the head, but possession was regained and the last move of the game was a classic winger’s run from Callum Connor, which all just served to show what might have been.

This result had players and supporters scratching their heads as to what had gone wrong. Ilkley had looked calm and collected for the most part, with plenty of possession. However, most of that possession was not where it mattered, in their opponent’s 22, or even half and with their characteristic attacking bite left in a glass on the bedside table, all Alnwick had to do was what Ilkley usually do so well – defend like demons.

There are some tough matches ahead, starting with Wirral away. The Cheshire side put 41 points on Ilkley’s last opponents, Rossendale, on Saturday, so the Dalesmen will have a lot of hard work to do to bounce back from this defeat.