ILKLEY ran riot in a 45-0 victory at relegated Kendal on Saturday.

Ilkley’s late selection had raised a few eyebrows, with skipper Elliot Morgan sidelined through injury, to be replaced at centre by none other than No 8 Max McKay.

A youthful looking backline included debutant George Kapur and in the forwards, Ollie Holtham was back, Billy Nicholls being on county duty. Rory Kassapian retained his back row slot.

As is often the case when comparisons are made, the Kendal pack looked much bigger than their Ilkley counterparts, but unlike at Harrogate last week, this time the home pack flattered to deceive.

This became apparent as early as the fourth minute, when Kendal lost their own put-in and the ball switched direction twice flanker Joe Lowes spotted a gap and powered his way through to score under the posts. Charles Ramsey converted to open up a lead of 7-0.

Ilkley soaked up whatever Kendal could throw at them and then struck again, when Peter Erskine combined well with Blake Morgan. The latter was bundled into touch, but then obligingly, Kendal lost their own line and McKay scored his first try as a back. Ramsey added the extras to make it 14-0.

A sublime run by Morgan out of his own half came to an abrupt end as he crashed into Kendal full-back Kris Bratton, the collision causing a delay of a couple of minutes to allow each player to regain his senses.

Then it was Kendal’s turn to break out. A high tackle by Ilkley 20 metres out between the posts led to Kendal’s opting for the scrum.

A wild pass out left was almost intercepted by Struan Connor, but referee Gavin Jones penalised the Ilkley full-back for a deliberate knock-on.

Still Kendal couldn’t unpick the Ilkley defence and a break out from their 22, with J-H Johnson ably supported by Kapur, led to a hack through rolling nicely into touch. However, Mr Jones had to break up a fracas 50 metres from play and eventually awarded Ilkley a scrum and a good team handling sequence ended with Johnson popping up on the wrong wing to end the move. Again, Ramsey’s kick was perfection and his side led 21-0.

The stand-off was called up again shortly before half-time, but not before Mr Jones had issued more stern words to both sides, unheeded by Kendal’s left-wing Dan Shorrock, who unwisely held on too long to Morgan’s leg after the tackle and was duly yellow-carded.

Ilkley’s kick to touch was inch-perfect, as was the catch and drive leading to a try for stand-in skipper Pat Power. Ramsey made it four from four as Ilkley went in at half-time with a 28-point lead.

The Dalesmen didn’t deal well with the kick-off as the final 40 minutes of the season started to tick away. As a result, they had a lot of defending to do and Kendal enjoyed ten minutes of possession, none of which yielded anything.

Again, Ilkley had demonstrated that they could take the pressure and after substitute Barney Vaughan’s break through a tiring Kendal defence, the prop was on hand with Lowes to give a scoring pass to Holtham for Ilkley’s fifth try, not converted.

Kendal were certainly not going down without a fight and battered away at the Ilkley line.

Scrum-half Andy Dixon pounced on a ball that appeared to have squirted out of a ruck, but Mr Jones disagreed and off Dixon went.

The hosts just could not get their game going and as they tired further and their error count increased.

The Ilkley defence was immense and when Dixon returned, they turned the screw.

Having found it difficult to escape their own half for ten minutes, Ilkley ground their way up field, with locks Luke Pearson and Erskine, coupling with hooker Harry Wales helping make the hard yards.

Kendal strayed offside, but Connor’s extraordinary summat and nowt kick allowed Kendal to clear – but not for long.

Erskine pinched a Kendal line and then another penalty to Ilkley and this time, Connor hit the sweet spot.

Coach Rhys Morgan sent on the remaining replacements, Archie Elgood and Callum Graham and the line was won.

The ball moved wide out left and then back inside, eventually into the hands of Morgan, who dummied and scored. Ramsey made it 40-0.

With Kendal dead on their feet, it only remained for Johnson to celebrate his 150th appearance with a second try, as he burst through a huge hole to score Ilkley’s seventh of the day. Ramsey’s kick hit the post and bounced back into play as Mr Jones blew no-side.

So, a superb finale for Ilkley, who finish one place lower than last season, but with six more points.

The team’s fitness and defensive abilities mean they have the fourth best points against record in the league and the fourth best points difference.

Their fitness level, particularly in the second half of the season told in many matches – even in this one, when there was little really to fight for.

The Dalesmen will have at least one new place to visit next year in the form of Macclesfield and will be renewing acquaintances with Morpeth and Carlisle for sure.

Blackburn host Scarborough in the N1E play-off for the final promotion spot.

This Ilkley side and its coaches, Messrs Morgan and Lowes have defied the odds to finish as well as this, a remarkably tough league, after losing some star players in April. The mood in the club and the pride in this team is second to none.