Kirkby Lonsdale 41

Ilkley 7

ILKLEY’S season continued apace as they went down once more, this time to a workmanlike Cumbrian side, which followed on its good away win at Morpeth the previous week with a thumping 41-7 win over the visiting Yorkshiremen.

With Kirkby better at coming to terms with the awful conditions and looking much more like a settled team, Ilkley battled well, but failed to make much impression on a pretty solid line of defence.

The match looked as good as over after 20 minutes, by which time Kirkby had crossed the whitewash three times, converting two of the tries to build up a 19-point cushion and even when Ilkley eventually woke up, enjoying the better of the second quarter, a solitary Blake Morgan try, converted by Chuckie Ramsay, was the only reward.

The first score of the day came after Ilkley’s strong opening five minutes. Seizing a spilt ball, scrum-half Ben Walker sold two outrageous dummies to score under the posts, the try converted by full-back Ryan Terry.

A silly obstruction by Ilkley led to a penalty kick that took Kirkby to the visitors’ 22. A classic catch and drive and the pack powered over. Terry’s boot obliged again and it was 14-0.

Ilkley made matters worse by clearly getting on the wrong side of referee Mr Doig, or at least not getting the rub of the green, but there can be no excuses for the third try, as the tackles simply didn’t go in and winger Harry Ralston took full advantage out wide. Terry hooked his kick.

As Ilkley came to their senses, progress was made and despite losing the first of rather too many of their own lines, it seemed a score would come. Kirkby’s Josh Sheridan was carded for a foul on Morgan and Ilkley took advantage with an Ed Brown penalty to Kirkby’s 22.

With Morgan leading the way and getting much better support, two quick penalties later and the scrum-half scampered under the posts. Ramsay’s kick made it 19-7 with five minutes to the break.

Ilkley did their level best to take advantage of their temporary superiority and a great break out of defence by Ramsay should have led to a score, the final pass finding touch rather than winger Finn Gateley’s hands.

After half-time, had Ilkley managed to score first, the outcome may have been different, but it was not to be as the home side capitalised on a plethora of Ilkley errors, both forced and unforced.

After sustained Kirkby pressure, the ball being held up over the line, the resulting five-metre scrum led to a pushover bonus-point try, wide on the left and not converted.

Kirkby then butchered another scoring chance when the ball was passed into touch, but as Ilkley’s injuries started to mount – Matt Sheard going off after a brave tackle – the home side took full advantage and powerful centre Scott Armstrong made the most of some sub-standard tackling to score his side’s fifth try of the day.

Jon Hutchinson made a welcome return to the front row, but even his athleticism couldn’t stop a well-worked try for left-wing Harry Huddleston. Terry’s conversion attempt failed, but at 36-7, it was game over.

Morgan and J-H Johnson retired, being replaced by Archie Elgood and Joe Paton, but as the light and general interest in the game waned, play became scrappy.

Scrums became uncontested when Kirkby’s Dan Thompson had to retire and at least Ilkley seemed to be having the better of the closing minutes. Well, they were until Gately’s pass to his support was cruelly intercepted by Andrew Bargh after some nice backs play set up by the returning Harry Harrison.

Bargh slipped before he could touch down, but the ball was recycled right and the final score of the day was on the right wing. Terry’s last missed kick was irrelevant and that was it.

So no early Christmas present for the Ilkley faithful and the only solace is that there is now a three-week break before the next match, the first in 2020 at home to Carlisle.

This should be enough time for the injured to make full recoveries and start the New Year with a win. It will be a tall order for the Dalesmen to propel themselves up the table, but miracles do happen!

Happy Christmas to all at Ilkley RFC.