RUGBY finally got back on track for Ilkley, following the pre-Christmas postponement of the Morpeth game and the Dalesmen faced a tricky visit to Woodhead, home of Old Brodleians, who were sitting two places above them in the league.

It’s going to be a tough start to 2022 as Ilkley are also scheduled to play four out of their next five games away from home, but after a most satisfying victory by 19 points to 10 today, in very testing conditions, the side can face the rest of the month in good heart.

Ilkley started brightly, with some slick handling, but when a knock-on put an end to all that, it was Brods’ turn to turn up the heat and the visitors conceded three penalties.

Then at the first scrum, they were unceremoniously shoved off their own ball. Still, both defences held firm.

After a scoreless quarter of an hour, Ilkley knocked on and conceded the scrum. No doubt smarting from their recent indignity, Ilkley’s pack was rock-solid and stole the ball at the breakdown. Out flashed the ball from Jack Maplesden to Kristan Dobson, whose break and beautifully timed pass found Kodie Brook, who finished the move with aplomb. Chuckie Ramsay added the goal and Ilkley were seven points up.

Brods’ won a line from kick-off and Ilkley’s Peter Erskine was unwise to enter the ensuing maul from the side in an attempt to block further progress. Referee Andy Baker was not amused and flourished a yellow.

Ilkley cleared their lines though, with the first of many superlative Maplesden box kicks, this one caught brilliantly on the full by Brook, who made further ground. From the ruck, the ball found its way to J-H Johnson to touch down under the posts. Ramsay’s kick made it 14-0

The visitors now had some defending to do. Mission accomplished, but at some cost. Firstly, skipper Joe Lowes had to depart with a ripped ear and then the rampaging Luke Gamble smashed his way out of his 22, only to injure his shoulder in the process.

Johnson’s penalty found touch eight meters out, but Brods pinched the line-out ball and ran it out. Ilkley managed to hold out against three or four phases, but eventually the ball found its way out to the right wing and full-back Phil Town dived over in the corner. The conversion missed.

There was just time for another Johnson penalty to earn a line 15m out, which Ilkley won, but the Brods defence stoically held out and the half finished with Ilkley 14-5 ahead.

Considering the leaden pitch and squally conditions, both sides contrived to play some enterprising rugby, with some outstanding handling and tackling all over the pitch. Ilkley’s Jack Brown was narrowly beaten in a kick and chase duel, forcing the drop out from under the posts and then the Brods pack gained a lot of hard yards with some powerful driving.

This entertaining period of play lasted fully 30 minutes with no score. Harry Harrison made a welcome return, replacing Brown on the wing and Charlie Head gave way to Ollie Ham, whose pristine white shirt stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb, though not for long.

Ramsay produced an outstanding tackle to save an almost certain score and that was the signal for another Ilkley counter-attack. A line was won in the Brods 22 and the Ilkley pack battered away at the opposition goal-line. Their efforts were finally rewarded when lock Steve Costello barged his way over to put the game beyond Brods. Ramsay’s kick hit a post, but 19-5 would surely be enough.

And so it proved, even if Brods completed the scoring for the day when stand-off Christian Georgiou just pipped the Ilkley cover defence to the ball following a neat chip through. Brods needed the conversion for a losing bonus point, but the kick sailed wide and that was it.

So, a great advertisement for Yorkshire rugby, with both sides contributing to an absorbing spectacle. Ilkley deserved the win though and certainly did not play as is if they had not played for a month.

Next up for Ilkley is Cleckheaton , who had a solid win away at Malton and Norton. Ilkley scraped a win in the home encounter with a brilliant try in the last five minutes, having been behind for most of the match so nothing can, or will be taken for granted.