THE Dalesmen’s trip to South Leeds turned out to be a fruitful one, as they overcame a spirited Morley side with a five-point win to go three points clear at the top of the league.

The Scatcherd Lane side had moved up to fifth place by beating Pocklington the week before in a rearranged game and they certainly put the visitors through their paces from the first minute. Perhaps Ilkley’s week off told a little in the first 20 minutes, as the Maroons got into their stride much more quickly.

Ilkley soaked up this early pressure, despite losing the first scrum, but it did seem a long time ( actually ten minutes ) before they got into the Morley half, courtesy of a kick by Kristan Dobson, followed up by Harry Boyd.

The Morley backs drifted offside on their 22 and Mr Ounsley awarded the penalty to allow Chuckie Ramsay to get the scoreboard going.

Mr Ounsley then took exception to a high tackle by Morley’s Number Eight, Tomas Phipps and off he went for the next ten minutes.

It was somewhat against the run of play then that a rare lapse by the Ilkley backs presented Morley with an overlap when breaking out of their own half. Ilkley ran out of defenders and centre Jake Dearden took full advantage to score a good try, not converted.

Still not quite firing on all cylinders, Ilkley were slowly getting their game together and when a J-H Johnson penalty took his side to Morley’s 22, the scene was set. Having won the line, Ilkley’s next phase saw skipper Joe Lowes run a dummy line. Ramsay’s pass found Dobson, whose sleight of hand gave Boyd all the space he needed to touch down in the corner.

Ramsay’s conversion sailed over and Ilkley were 10.5 up.

With Morley back to full strength, each side was working hard to break down determined defences. Ilkley almost crumbled, but breathed a sigh of relief when a penalty was awarded in their favour, to the audible displeasure of the home crowd.

More pain was to come, when another Johnson penalty gave Ilkley an attacking platform deep in their opponent’s half. A Jack Maplesden dummy earned the scrum-half a valuable ten metres and the move culminated in a well-worked try for Kodie Brook. Another missed conversion left the score at 15.5 to Ilkley as half-time was blown.

Ilkley emerged from the changing room suitably refreshed and despite conceding an early scrum, they won it against the head. Maplesden threw out a blind-side pass that found Boyd on the right. The winger skinned his opposite man and found Johnson in support. He in turn had Lowes on his shoulder at pace and it was the skipper that scored the try. Ramsay’s kick bisected the posts and it was 22.5.

Ilkley’s kicking out of hand hadn’t been particularly noteworthy so far, but that was to change when a kick and chase by Brook forced Morley to carry the ball over their goal line. The scrum won, Ilkley went right via Johnson, who was held a metre short. Maplesden spun the ball left to Lowes and the flanker outpaced the despairing last defender for his second. 27.5

With the home side wilting a little going onto the last quarter, Ilkley were able to keep possession longer. Struan Connor made a welcome return, replacing Brook and shortly afterwards, Ilkley were penalised on the Morley 5m line.

The kick almost found touch on the half way line, but Maplesden’s superb take and reverse pass found its way to Boyd, who finished the scoring for the day with a try in the corner, unconverted.

Morley were not quite done yet though, as they fought aggressively for the ball with 15 minutes to go. Perhaps a little too aggressively though, as flanker George Bowen was carded. The break allowed debutant Max Jones to replace Tom Dickinson.

Ilkley withstood three difficult scrums before being able to clear and although the result was now behind doubt, Ilkley had endured a torrid ten minutes. There was just one more chance of a score,when a Johnson penalty got his side onto Morley’s 10m line following more shenanigans from the recently returned Bowen - this time the card was red though.

The resulting line was poor and Morley earned a penalty which was hoofed into touch to end the game.

A good, solid result for the Dalesmen then and a great foundation for the next game, at home to Pocklington. With Driffield (2nd) playing Heath (3rd) Ilkley will be hoping to increase that three-point margin at the top.