Ilkley 21

Rossendale 32

THE hard learning curve goes on for this young Ilkley side, and it doesn’t get any easier despite their best efforts at Stacks Fields on Saturday.

It could be said that playing the whole of the second half against 14 men should have produced a winning result for Ilkley.

Ilkley’s play did improve in the second half in the way they put together moves and produced good runs, which would have produced scores even against 15 men in the writer’s opinion.

However, Rossendale are a dogged side and difficult to dislodge once on top. Their over robust play brought them four yellow cards and a red. Ilkley had three.

The game began with early mistakes from both sides restricting play to midfield. However, the Ilkley scrum came under pressure with Ilkley missing prop Ollie Holtam for the second week.

From a knock down on halfway, Rossendale put the penalty kick into touch on the Ilkley 22 and from which Joe Lowes was adjudged to have brought the resulting maul down, earning him a yellow card.

Rossendale opted for the line-out, which Ilkley managed to disrupt but Rossendale persevered and their forwards rumbled over for a try.

From the kick-off, Ilkley ran the ball but lost possession in midfield allowing their opponents to pass the ball down their line to score in the corner, making it 10-0.

An Ilkley line-out was driven on but Louis Fraser was penalised for hanging on. Rossendale kicked into the Ilkley half for a line-out and then their forwards sucked in the Ilkley defence before releasing the ball for their centre to score a converted try. This proved an expensive time for the Ilkley 14.

Callum Sanderson came on to give captain Lowes a rest from his Herculean efforts and proved himself an energetic and forceful player.

n the face of Rossendale’s aggressive play, Ilkley gave away another penalty followed by a yellow for Luke Pearson for reaching over a ruck.

Rossendale’s kick to touch and successful line-out led to their forwards mauling the ball over for a fourth try, which was converted to make it 24-0.

Ilkley gained a penalty, which gave an attacking line-out on Rossendale’s 22. The line-out was lost and Ilkley were driven back. They went again but a shoulder hit on the neck of the charging Sam Rowntree brought Rossendale’s hooker a red card.

The first half finished with Ilkley tussling hard but not making any real progress.

The second half brought no initial respite with the Lancashire side’s No 10 being given too much room.

A Rossendale line-out saw the ball being passed out to their speedy centre, who avoided all attempts to tackle him to score an unconverted try in the corner to make it 29-0.

At last this seemed to stir Ilkley into running better lines and supporting each other. Blake Morgan made a great break which was stopped by foul play earning a yellow for the offender.

This was followed by yet another for more Rossendale transgression in the red zone after concerted Ilkley attacks. The home side capitalised with J-H Johnson going over from a scrum, converted by Chuckie Ramsay.

Despite this boost Ilkley’s tackling remained poor with Rossendale making far too much ground as a result.

A good Ilkley scrum enabled Johnson to make a good touchline kick. However, another fracas followed the line-out with Johnson and a Rossendale prop being yellow carded and the resultant penalty converted to make it 32-7.

Ilkley, to their credit, did not give up and moved upfield with good forward and back inter-passing which eventually saw Andy Malley’s support play bringing him a try in the corner, brilliantly converted by Ramsay.

Finally, Ilkley were playing with some confidence and a penalty brought them an attacking line-out. The chance was lost as more fighting erupted.

After further fractious play, Ilkley broke upfield and Johnson ran well only to be stopped by a Rossendale high tackle earning the miscreant a yellow card.

Ilkley then took the game to their opponents with good team pressure seeing Sanderson crashing over for another converted try, which cut the lead to 32-21.

Unfortunately, despite further attacking play and good running Ilkley were unable to get a another try and two bonus points.