Blaydon 36

Ilkley 18

ILKLEY gave a much-improved performance against second-placed Blaydon who boasted a solid pack and a canny No 10 who could kick well.

Ilkley enjoyed returning to a 4G pitch and were soon into their stride with good inter-passing between Blake Morgan and J-H Johnson who made good ground.

A superb break by Joe Lowes and pass onto the supporting Morgan saw him scorch between the posts for a glorious try, converted by Chuckie Ramsay to put Ilkley 7- 0 up within five minutes.

Blaydon then showed their intent with a scrum against the head and kick to touch 10 yards from Ilkley’s line.

Taking the line-out, their pack then drove over for hooker Henderson to touch down, converted by No 10 Foreman from the touchline.

Back came Ilkley and from their kick-off they forced a penalty and Ramsay converted from 40 yards.

Again, Ilkley took the kick-off and Ed King broke through with support but a spilled pass to Morgan, which denied Ilkley another seven points with the line open.

It was then Blaydon’s turn to score as Ilkley were penalised for a high tackle.

Ilkley were then penalised for bringing the Blaydon’s drive down from the ensuing line-out and Blaydon kicked to Ilkley’s 10-yard line.

Blaydon scored from the line-out with their pack allowing No 9 Taylor to touch down, converted by Foreman.

Ilkley came back strongly with Sam Rowntree to the fore, but a harsh penalty against them allowed Blaydon to push them back and gain another penalty, which Foreman drove through the uprights.

There followed a good period of attacking play by Ilkley, who enjoyed making ground with their passing and support play.

After another charge by Ilkley a close-in move foundered with a spilt pass denying Morgan another try under the posts.

The half-time score saw Blaydon with a narrow 17-10 lead.

The second half saw Ilkley’s scrum improving against a very tough Blaydon eight.

With more possession, Ilkley held their opponents in their own half and more attacking play brought a penalty converted by Ramsay.

Ilkley started to push hard for another score. Their adventurous approach pushed Blaydon back and just as they were well placed just short of Blaydon’s 22-metre line they left the back of the ruck unguarded for Blaydon to clear.

Quite heavy rain then fell as Ilkley defended strong forward attacks and King was yellow carded for bringing Blaydon’s drive down.

Fortunately, a technical offence by Blaydon lost them a promising position. This respite was short lived for Ilkley as Blaydon drove hard from the kick-off and their pack went over for a converted try by prop Dodds

A further period of pressure was resisted by Ilkley before they broke out with Luke Pearson and Morgan making ground into Blaydon’s half.

Blaydon’s No 4, Lockwood, somehow managed to grab the ball and show a remarkable turn of speed to bear down on Ilkley’s line.

Despite being caught by the determined A Malley, Blaydon recycled and drove over for replacement Lenderyou to score. This was a cruel blow for Ilkley after a promising period of attacking play.

Although Blaydon clearly deserved their lead, Ilkley showed what they can do with their pack giving an improved performance against a bigger eight, and this was maintained when J Paton came on for Ollie Holtam, who had played to his usual high standard.

Ilkley went back on the attack, driving Blaydon back to their line and it was just reward for Ilkley’s forwards when King went over the line.

Blaydon’s defence of this drive earned a yellow card for captain Davidson.

The game ended after a cross-field kick caught by Blaydon’s Davidson gave Blaydon a flattering 36-18 victory.

Ilkley’s players gave a good performance to be proud of with replacements N Hyde, T Dickinson and Malley playing their part.

There is no doubt that Ilkley are now capable of playing good attacking rugby, from which they can score and their pack is gaining confidence that they can cope better with their inevitably bigger opponents.

Keeping this momentum going is now Ilkley’s challenge. Two wins out of the next three home games is the minimum goal but they can do three. In fact, winning the last four games before Christmas is not beyond their reach.