ILKLEY lost 24-17 on a grey, cold west coast day at the historic Vale of Lune rugby club on Saturday.

Unavailability or injury had meant changes to both the pack and the backs, as Max McKay and Luke Pearson were replaced by Steve Burns, making his 100th start for Ilkley, and JH Johnson moving in from the wing to number 8.

Will Howarth started this week and Kobe O’Brien, a product of the Ilkley Junior section and fresh from Yorkshire 18’s last week, made his debut for the club at full-back. Charles Ramsey returned at 10.

Notwithstanding these changes the Dalesmen were on a roll having won five out of the last six, but Vale had six names in their starting side not seen in the home game at the end of September and recent form had shown they were getting to grips with the rigours of North Premier rugby.

So whilst Ilkley had put Vale to the sword late on in the game at Stacks Field, they knew they would have tough and motivated opposition.

A slippery pitch and a huge dead ball area did nothing to help the slick passing game and affected both sides.

Vale were first to trouble the scoreboard - just as they did at Stacks Field.

Just as Ilkley were building a real head of steam they knocked on. After a Vale scrum, they forced a line-out on the Ilkley 22 and sent the ball wide for Chris Ramwell to burst through to score a converted try after eight minutes.

Ilkley began to exert pressure again, but they got close mistakes or penalties allowed Vale to escape unscathed.

Finally Howarth was put away down the left only to be felled by a wild high tackle by the try scorer Ramwell. Mr Henry showed yellow and awarded Ilkley a penalty try. to make it 7-7.

Ilkley piled on pressure with dominance in the scrum, and created plenty of chances in the Vale 22 but found a stubborn home defence.

Vale had escaped to half way when a loose ball was gathered and passed through just about the whole Ilkley side and finally to Howarth, who flew in down the right for a second try to make it 12-7 to the Dalesmen.

A scrappy start to the second half saw Ilkley lose an innocuous ball in midfield. Vale snapped it up and kicked through to five metres but Ilkley escaped.

Vale then had a penalty which was slotted from 30 metres to cut Ilkley's lead to 12-10.

The Vale game began to open up and they introduced a kicking game to their repertoire. A beauty across field found Howarth out jumped by Damon Hall, who went in for a converted try, giving Vale a 17-12 lead.

Another kick through almost put Vale in for another but Charles Ramsey won the race. He was adjudged to carried over.

Vale’s five metre scrum was well defended but Ilkley were caught off-side as a loose ball was kicked injudiciously. The penalty which would have made it an eight-point game was missed.

Ilkley then had a penalty on their 22. The line-out was well won. Some tremendous phases were followed by a darting run by Blake Morgan to put skipper Elliot Morgan in for a score. It proved too far out for Ramsey to convert but the scores were level at 17-17.

Ilkley’s hackles were up but Vale would not be passed. They tackled like demons, albeit perilously close to the off-side line.

A crunching tackle on Dan Lawrence was one of many Vale pulled out of the bag. The ball was dislodged and picked up by Vale.

A chip though into space was brilliantly followed up by winger Hall and to the delight of the vocal Vale support he went over for what was the winning try.

Despite a final thrust by Ilkley in the dying moments Ilkley, the final score was 24-17 and the visitors just brought back a losing bonus point across the Pennines.

Ilkley 2nds had a weekend off league rugby and travelled to Halifax to take on the 1st XV of the famous old club now languishing in the lower leagues. They secured a good win 24-14.

The Centurions, Ilkley's third team, made the short trip up to West Park Leeds to take on their 2nds and won 19-3.