Ilkley 9

Morpeth 24

ILKLEY remain rock bottom of the North Premier after suffering a defeat to Morpeth at Stacks Field.

The away side led going into half-time after a well-worked try and a penalty, had cancelled the hosts' duo of three-pointers.

Another two converted tries put the match beyond Ilkley, who were condemned to their fifth defeat in a row.

Rhys Morgan's men will attempt to gain only their second victory of the season when they take on fellow strugglers Rossendale this Saturday.

It was always going to be a tough day at the office for the Dalesmen, without the unavailable Dan Lawrence, against a strong scrummaging Morpeth side, boasting two powerful props, one of whom is a Northumberland County prop.

In came Nathan Hyde, who has joined the club alongside the returning Harry Wales and prop Joe Paton for the hosts.

Ilkley had the brighter start, penning Morpeth in their half for nearly 10 minutes with strong running.

However, the home side's demise began when they missed a tackle in midfield, resulting in Morpeth’s centre running in under the posts to give them a seven-point lead.

Nevertheless, Ilkley stuck to their task and converted a penalty through Chuckie Ramsay, who bounced a further penalty kick off the crossbar.

This could have proved to be a turning point but the Northumberland side's scrum thought differently and put tremendous pressure on the home eight.

A Morpeth penalty meant the sides were four points apart at the break, despite their scrum problems, Ilkley still had a chance against their 10th-placed opposition.

The second half saw the visitors extend their advantage by scoring a penalty try.

The 14th-placed team fought back and resisted manfully for one period of nine scrums in a row, which they survived magnificently.

Ilkley’s backs were vigorous in their attack but Morpeth’s defence stayed strong and left no gaps.

Although, the Stacks Field side did force a penalty which Ramsay converted to reduce the difference to eight points.

A potential comeback may have been on the horizon but Morpeth maintained a tight grip on the game not allowing Ilkley’s efforts to be rewarded.

The visitors sealed their victory when their pack gained possession near the Ilkley line and drove over for a further converted try.

Ilkley’s uphill mountain was not helped by two yellow cards and an injury to Joe Paton, who was replaced by Harry Donougher, a second team player who had recently moved to prop.

Donougher only lasted 17 minutes due to Morpeth's strong props proving too much for the youngster.

The remainder of the game was played with uncontested scrums as Ilkley failed to pierce the Morpeth defence.