ILKLEY’S full strength 15 were fine value for their first double of the season, notching up a very impressive 31-17 victory at Kirkby Lonsdale.

The Dalesmen were not at full strength for long though, as prop Billy Nicholls and then number eight Max Mackay both suffered early injuries after their side’s first try. Ably replaced by Dan Lawrence and J-H Johnson respectively, the latter’s versatility gave young Will Howarth an opportunity to shine on Johnson’s vacated wing-berth.

These early replacements though had repercussions later in the match, when Kirkby were able to bring on fresh legs to have a pop or two at a tiring Ilkley side.

The two yellow cards dished out by referee Nathan Howarth to Kirkby also aided the swan-song resurgence, as flanker Craig Galbraith and fullback Ryan Terry had both enjoyed a ten minute rest-period.

Ilkley looked the better side from the word go and their patience in edging ever forward was eventually rewarded when Harry Wales dived over, following a well-rehearsed line-out move. Unfortunately, Mr Howarth’s interpretation of downward pressure differed from the Ilkley hooker’s and a scrum was awarded to Kirkby.

Undeterred, Ilkley stormed back and a sweet Pat Atkinson break released Johnson for a 40 metre sprint to score on the right. Charles Ramsay’s conversion attempt drifted wide.

Whilst Ilkley remained dominant, Kirkby did start to make the odd break and only a forward pass after a good break from full back Terry prevented a score.

Ilkley were not to find the tight scrum altogether to their liking and shortly after the game’s first, Nicholls departed, injured, followed swiftly by Kirkby’s Galbraith.

Atkinson continued his early good work after Johnson had moved to number eight, with a couple of great line kicks.

Joe Lowes made metres before being stopped in his tracks, but from the line-out resulting from Kirkby’s clearance kick, a great take by Pat Power, a determined run from Johnson and a neat pass to Struan Connor had the winger touching down under the posts. Ramsay’s kick made it 12-0 on 39 minutes.

There was more excitement to come in injury time, as Terry’s injudicious tackling of Blake Morgan in the air earned a somewhat lenient yellow.

The penalty to touch did not make it, but the Kirkby clearance kick was charged down by Connor, who gathered and scored. Ramsay’s successful kick rubbed the salt in, just before the half-time whistle blew.

Ilkley started the second half well, with some nice interchanging between Johnson and Connor from their own half.

The move continued, but Mr Howarth blew for crossing in the centre, Johnson heading for an undefended goal-line.

With Kirkby's back from the sin bin, the contest became more even and Ilkley had a lot of defending to do, which a task was carried out magnificently. Blake Morgan was replaced by Ed Brown at scrum-half and Stephen Burns for Peter Erskine.

Eventually, a break-out from their own 22 saw Atkinson and Connor make 50 metres before the winger chipped ahead, forcing a five metre scrum. Ilkley won it and Luke Pearson crashed over for the bonus-point try, converted by Ramsay to make it 26-0.

The lock-forward then took a pass off his bootlaces to help set up another attack and following a high tackle, the penalty took Ilkley to within 15 metres.

Superbly controlled rucking and mauling, then a timely release to the backs resulted in a try wide out on the right wing for Will Howarth, the conversion attempt just wide.

At 31-0, surely that was it. Unfortunately not, as Kirkby fought demonically to get something from the match.

First, Harry Ralston finished off a good move and then left winger Scott Armstrong scooted over wide out left.

The tireless James Thompson added a third, duly converted to give some respectability to the scoreline from the Cumbrian viewpoint.

The Dalesmen remain in sixth place in the Yorkshire Premier on 41 points, with a healthy points difference over the three clubs behind them.

This Saturday sees the visit of second-placed Billingham to Stacks Field.