AFTER the heroics of the previous week at Wirral, there was a certain optimism that Ilkley might pull off a surprise against North Premier leaders Hull.

But despite a brave performance, the hosts slipped to a 23-8 defeat to a combative and competent Hull.

With the earlier 2.15pm kick off, it seemed to be an age before Ilkley got to see the ball, but in the meantime, they were obliged to put in a shed-load of tackling for 15 minutes before possession was finally achieved and JH Johnson’s raking kick gave them a platform to attack from.

Pat Power’s take at the line set up the move, which was halted, but the Hull backs had drifted offside - the penalty was awarded and Chuckie Ramsey obliged - 3-0 to Ilkley after 15 minutes.

Max McKay had the first of several line-breaking runs and the number eight simply got better as the game progressed.

But another penalty at the breakdown gave Hull all the incentive they needed to set up a move that led to a try being awarded to Stephen Hihetah. Stephen Johnson’s kick failed.

They nearly went further ahead when another Johnson's kick took Ilkley to the Hull 22. The line was lost, though, and a great break-out by Hull centre Alexander Heard should have put his scrum-half, Robert Watts, in for a try. Fortunately for Ilkley, the pass was dropped and Ilkley had a scrum close to their line.

This was won and Ilkley tried to play their way out of trouble, eventually being forced into touch 30 metres from their line. Hull won this but fierce Ilkley tackling forced a turnover and a combination of Elliot Morgan’s running and Johnson’s boot led to safety.

Hull’s next attack was thwarted by some great cover tackling and when Hull offended yet again, Johnson’s kick took his side to the Hull 22.

Peter Erskine’s take was sound, but referee Howarth judged that Elliot Morgan’s had knocked on.

Hull kicked off for the second half started and immediately coughed up a penalty, when Joe Lowes was tackled dangerously. Referee Howarth signalled a tip-tackle, but issued only a yellow.

Ilkley stormed up the pitch and when the outstanding McKay’s 30m carry finally came to a stumbling halt, the number eight had Lowes on his shoulder to take the pass and score wide out on the left. Ramsey’s kick missed but Ilkley were in the lead again at 8-5.

Hull reacted positively and when their next attack broke down, a penalty was awarded which Simon Humberstone slotted to tie the scores.

The visitors now moved up a gear, forcing two more penalties in their favour, the second of which was for Ilkley pulling the scrum down, when they had already won it.

Hull rumbled towards Ilkley’s 5m line and well-controlled recycling led to another try for Hithetah as Ilkley ran out of defenders on the left and this time, Humberstone’s kick was good.

With Stephen Burns on for Erskine, another scrum was won by Ilkley from the kick-off, but yet another penalty for pulling down was awarded, again having already won the ball.

Insult was added to injury when Johnson was penalised when competing in the air for a 50/50 ball, another mystifying decision which cost his side another three points from Humberstone’s boot.

Hull’s swinging arm tackling style was eventually punished with a yellow-card to lock Liam Regardsoe, but with their tails up, his side soaked up what Ilkley threw at them and the home side could not take advantage of the extra man.

Indeed, when they lost possession in their own half, valiantly trying to play out of trouble, Ilkley found themselves back 10m from their own line following a clever chip through.

Huge efforts from both sides saw Ilkley again try to break out of the danger area, but being forced backwards at the breakdown and eventually, back over their own line. Ilkley defended this well, but were still under the cosh.

With Regardsoe back on, Hull’s patient build-up led to try number three for Hihetah in the corner, as the winger battered his way through some tiring Ilkley defence to go over in the corner, the conversion attempt missing.