ILKLEY showed plenty of heart in their performance against league leaders Blaydon, despite being downed 32-5 at Stacks Field in the North Premier.

The league table does not lie, 69 points separated the two sides before the match. In the end, the 80 minutes of hotly contested rugby certainly did not reflect the relative league positions.

At last the weather gods had given the Ilkley pitches some relief and the groundsmen had produced a good playing surface which allowed the top of the ground speedsters to strut their stuff.

Blake Morgan and Finn Gateley caught the eye on the Ilkley side. Similarly, both Blaydon wings Nathan Bailey and Jack Appleton were always a danger.

After a solid start Ilkley were unlucky to come away without breaking the deadlock after camping on the visitors line for almost 10 minutes.

It was a fortuitous escape from defence that turned into a slick attacking move. Several phases of powerful rugby were well countered by the Dalesmen but one missed tackle gave hooker Frazer Wilson a free run in from 40 metres to score.

It was an Ilkley scrum in reverse that eventually led to the second Blaydon score. A penalty with conversion gave the visitors a 12 point advantage.

Ed Brown picked out Dan Lawrence who burst through several defenders from all of 25 meters to score for the Dalesmen and produce the biggest cheer of the day.

Ilkley, with their confidence lifted, pressed again through young Gateley who was stopped illegally. A forward pass frustrated that opportunity.

Ollie Holtam saw yellow for his defensive efforts being slightly out of place. Blaydon exploited the space vacated on the wing as JH Johnson was now employed in the pack. Jack Appleton sped in for the score to make it 17-5 at the break.

A lineout or two lost by Ilkley and some sloppy play by the visitors produced not much until a pivotal moment occurred. Johnson was released down his wing with the line at his mercy, he stepped outside his opposite number and went on a typical wrecking ball charge towards the Blaydon line. Stand-in touch judge James Cooney put his flag up anticipating Johnson’s mercurial foot crossing the line but it stayed well inside. It was a mistake. Referee Kristian Garland had no option to call the lineout.

A Blaydon lineout taken short took the Ilkley back line by surprise to produce the bonus point try.

A long speculative kick out of defence found Harry Swarbrick who was unable to deal with a bobbling ball and winger Nathan Bailey walked over for the score.

A five metre scrum set the Blaydon platform for a series of forays battering at a resolute Ilkley defence. The lines were finally broken by young wing replacement Chidera Obonna who wheeled out of a tackle to plant the ball over the line.

Ilkley once again drew a blank on league points but not for admiration from the crowd for their very considerable and unstinting efforts.