ILKLEY beat the elements to secure a 22-5 home win against Sandal and moved up four places in the Yorkshire Premier going into the Christmas break.

In conditions that few would have ventured out in, the brave souls who took to the pitch and those who eschewed the warmth of the clubhouse witnessed a very satisfactory win for the Dalesmen.

In truly Baltic conditions, both sides did their level best to play an expansive game, even if it was obvious that all four wingers risked hyperthermia unless they got stuck in.

With the thought possibly in their minds that another poor opening few minutes would not be a good idea, Ilkley looked menacing from the word go.

In the third minute, Pat Power score under the posts after a good break from flanker Joe Lowes. Charles Ramsey added the extras.

Not surprisingly, there were handling errors aplenty, but the home side was markedly superior with ball in hand.

Ilkley were at their defensive best and needed to be, though Max Mackay was carded for one of those odd decisions which leave player, team, opposition and spectators baffled.

Sandal were not able to take advantage of the extra man and when Mackay returned to the fray, Ilkley regained their superiority and when the visitors spilled a ball, Struan Connor was on hand to burgle a try, racing a good 40 metres to dive over. Ramsey’s conversion was missed, but Ilkley were 12-0 up.

Conditions deteriorated right on cue and there was no further score for the rest of the half, as both sides sprinted to the warmth of the dressing rooms as the whistle blew.

The second half started in Stygian darkness, yet both sides gave it their best, no doubt trying at least to stay warm.

Sandal’s Adam Hopkinson profited from a similar handling error that had allowed Connor to score and notch his side’s only points of the day.

Ilkley’s reply was not long coming, Ramsey slotting a penalty when the Sandal backs drifted off-side, bringing the score to 15-5 at which point, most of the spectators had had enough.

Shame, as they missed a peach of a try from the Ilkley’s quicksilver scrum-half Blake Morgan, who profited from superb work by the forwards and a great pass from Power. Morgan had plenty to do, but had enough in the tank to race 40 metres to the line. Ramsey’s kick completed the afternoon’s scoring.

The visiting Santas from Sandal must have left happy however, as for the first time in this correspondent’s experience, the bar was drunk dry of bitter. Ho, ho, ho!

Far more satisfying though was the Ilkley win, the first against the Wakefield side for many a year and achieved in pretty convincing fashion.

The win puts Ilkley up four places to sixth and sees Rhys Morgan and his charges in a very comfortably warm position.

There will be a well-deserved break now, before the second half of the season kicks off at Kirkby Lonsdale on January 5.

Having had a handsome victory over their Cumbrian opposition early in the season, the Dalesmen will no doubt be wanting to reverse last year’s result and on today’s form, that is well within reach.