ILKLEY RFC started their league campaign in scintillating fashion after thrashing newly promoted Consett 82-0 at home on the weekend.
Ilkley started where they left off the Saturday before, having comfortably beaten Waterloo in a pre-season friendly. Always looking fitter and sharper with the ball in hand, it was one way traffic from the start, prop Rob Sigsworth going in under the posts within two minutes, Ben King slotting the extras.
King added a penalty before Kristen Dobson took a lovely floated pass from returning scrum-half Jack Maplesden following a couple of forward drives. The centre strolled over to touch down, giving King an easy conversion, putting Ilkley 17 points up.
Consett’s first attacking move after a quarter of an hour was comfortably dealt with Ilkley eventually breaking out of their 22, courtesy of some determined J-H Johnson running. Ilkley’s third try came soon afterwards, when a smart kick into space by Maplesden bounced kindly, giving Johnson the chance to pounce and breeze in under the posts.
King kicked another penalty, before second-row Callum Graham departed the field of play, replaced by Stephen Costello, with the score at 27-0.
With the bit firmly between their teeth, Ilkley turned on the style, with intelligent kicking and some delightful handling. Unsurprisingly, the bonus-point try followed swiftly, with Dobson bagging his second of the day, again converted by King.
The half finished with a forward’s try, when a catch and drive worked to perfection, Australia-bound Dan Lawrence emerging from the pile of bodies with a huge grin on his face. Good luck down in Adelaide, Dan !
The conversion attempt from the touch line sailed wide, but Ilkley led 39-0 at half time.
Consett’s start to the second half couldn’t have been worse, as they conceded a penalty for a tackle in the air. King obliged with the kick.
Winger Jack Brown was next on the scoresheet as a sumptuous move involving what seemed like the whole team was finished with aplomb. King’s kick was the icing on the cake.
With the opposition now in some disarray, skipper Joe Lowes took advantage of some slack defence to burst through to feed the onrushing Costello, who took two defenders with him as he plunged over. Johnson took over the kicking duties and it was 56-0.
Another tackle in the air was one too many for referee Mr. Leahy and winger Matt Jackson was yellow-carded. Ilkley took full advantage and after some good work by Lowes, winger Oli Pearson gave Johnson an inside pass for another score under the posts, followed by another success with the boot.
With Consett dead on their feet, Costello returned the compliment to Lowes straight from the kick-off, the Ilkley skipper showing an impressive turn of speed. Johnson’s kick missed but Ilkley were 68 points up now.
There were two more tries to come though. The first came when Dobson was able to wrestle the ball from his opposite man and still have the time and pace to outstrip the defensive cover. The second, a couple of minutes later, resulted from Ilkley bossing broken play, Johnson passing inside to replacement Floris van Oekel to go under the posts.
Johnson converted both, to give himself a tally of 18 points on the day and the match ended at 82 points to nil, Ilkley’s eleven tries coming from eight different players.
Notwithstanding the relatively modest opposition, this was an outstanding performance from Ilkley, full of champagne moments and a real tonic for the watching troops on the terrace. Next week will see the Dalesmen make their longest trip of the season to far-flung Morpeth, who somewhat surprisingly lost narrowly at home to newly-promoted Old Brods.
And after their resounding 82-0 victory, Ilkley's head of rugby, Rhys Morgan, was pleased with what he saw.
He said: "When you go into a new season and you've got newly promoted teams, you don't really know what those teams have got to offer, including Consett at the weekend.
"It can throw some uncertainties but I'm glad we came through it with a positive result.
"I thought we could start well after our positive display at Waterloo and that's what we did so it's looking positive and it's a massive win.
"Some people may say it's only against a side who've just come up but you can only play what's in front of you and you still have to be in your A-game.
"You do feel for a team when they are at the wrong end of a 80 plus scoreline so at the end I was kind of wanting the game to finish.
"But on the other hand, I'm extremely pleased with the points we scored, it will confidence to the lads and we are playing some brilliant team rugby."
Morgan added: "We are not getting carried away and we must keep doing what we do.
"I was certainly impressed by a few of the tries and the rugby we played but we shouldn't get carried away."        Report: Sean Crannigan           Quotes: HarryWilliams