A LATE try earned Ilkley a bonus point in a 47-27 loss at play-off chasing Harrogate on Saturday.

Andy Dixon returned for Ilkley at scrum-half and in the absence of Ollie Holtham, Billy Nicholls returned at prop. Ed Brown’s enforced week off meant a start at centre for Ricky Palacio, Blake Morgan moving to the wing.

Harrogate’s large pack looked menacing and from the kick-off, justified the look.

A clean catch on their 22 and some well-worked phases got them just into the Ilkley half, before the ball was knocked on.

A quick heel and Blake Morgan was given enough space to make a good break, but unfortunately ran out of support and the ball was lost.

A chip ahead by Harrogate was fielded by Struan Connor, whose feint inside was well read by the opposition.

Ilkley managed to get the ball back to Charles Ramsey, but the clearance kick held in the wind and Harrogate countered.

Blake Morgan was pinged and yellow-carded and Harrogate unsurprisingly opted for a scrum under the posts.

The Ilkley pack was forced back and scrum-half Phil Wickham dotted down for the first score of the day, converted by Nathan Wyman.

Connor and J-H Johnson both had good runs before Ilkley turned over a Harrogate ball.

Swift hands and a well-weighted pass from Pat Power and Johnson was over in the corner, the conversion attempt missing.

Another patient build-up by Ilkley, retaining the ball well, made 40 metres before the Harrogate defence had had enough and killed the ball. Ramsey had to wait for an injured Harrogate player to be attended to before be slotted the goal, giving Ilkley a one-point lead of 8-7.

At this point, Palacio succumbed to an earlier knock and was replaced by Harry Bolland.

A moment’s inattention led to Ilkley losing their own scrum and with the outstanding David Doherty smashing his way through the defensive line, only a stunning tackle by the newcomer halted a certain try.

The Harrogate pack began to flex its muscles, their big units grinding their way forward and it was entirely with the run of play when replacement Jonny Coser forced his way over. Wyman’s conversion made it 14-8 with half an hour gone.

Both sides were awarded penalties and both sides had their ball stolen at the line-out.

Finally though, Harrogate got a line eight metres from Ilkley’s goal-line. The first wave of phases was very well-defended and Ramsey was able to clear to his 22.

Ilkley’s luck ran out on the next assault though, as Harrogate decided to release their backs wide on the left. Clean handling and over went Andrew Lawson in the corner.

Wyman’s kick made it 21-8 as the half-time whistle blew.

The second half started badly for the visitors. Harrogate fielded their own kick-off and rumbled up field.

Ilkley managed to pinch the ball, but the clearance kick failed to make touch and the penalty was paid, as a lovely flat pass put prop Charlie Purkiss-Mcendo in under the posts, leaving the kick a formality.

Ilkley responded well, flattening the catcher at the kick-off and setting a nice move that saw skipper Elliot Morgan halted 10 metres out.

A quickly recycled ball and a great line taken by Connor led to a welcome try under the posts. Ramsey’s boot made it 28-15.

A penalty for crossing by Ilkley gave Harrogate a kick to 25 metres out and then another for coming in at the side by Ilkley took them to five metres out.

Ilkley managed to stop the maul, but the ball popped out and Lawson bagged his second. Another fine kick by Wyman and the scoreboard read 35-15.

And despite some very decent play from the visitors, it was Harrogate again who added to their tally.

Ilkley’s discipline was fraying at the edges and a couple of penalties were advanced 10 metres for backchat.

Another slick passing movement down the backs, with Doherty taking the ball off his bootlaces to put winger Harry Barnard in wide out right. Wyman’s miss was his only one of the day.

Ilkley piled on the pressure with Max McKay to the fore. Harrogate escape a yellow for handling on the ground, but eventually a popped pass to the incoming Connor and Ilkley cut the lead to 40-20, the kick missing.

In the last 10 minutes, after Elliot Morgan got a yellow card Lawson got his hat-trick as he danced his way over after strong running by his forwards. The conversion ed good, and at 47-20 the question was, could Ilkley get a fourth try in what little time remained?

Harrogate hadn’t finished trying and only stout defence held them out - a further Ilkley score looking unlikely.

But then an Andy Dixon break changed matters. Making ground well into the Harrogate half, Harrogate were penalised at the breakdown.

Mr Handa issued a long-overdue yellow to Harrogate’s defending pack, Coser taking the blame and the 10 minutes.

Fired up and the line in sight, Ilkley’s pressure finally told and Dixon darted over for that precious point. Ramsey’s successful kick ended the match at 47-27.

Results elsewhere would suggest that it is unlikely that Harrogate will be able to overtake Blaydon to claim that second play-off spot and Kendal’s nail-biting loss at Wilmslow means they are relegated along with their hosts and Vale of Lune.

Lymm’s surprise win at Sandal – also by a single point – rendered the Kendal game irrelevant anyway.

So Ilkley are ahead of last year’s points total by one and they remain in eighth place. A win at Kendal this Saturday would keep them there, just ahead of Alnwick, ironically the only side apart from champions Hull that the Dalesmen haven’t taken at least a point from.