THIRD placed Ilkley battled their way up to Driffield in the face of storm Malik to take on second placed Driffield, bringing with them a big crowd of supporters and a confidence built on three victories out of three since the Christmas break.

They were shorn of both captain Joe Lowes and Vice captain Chuckie Ramsay but welcomed back flyer Harry Boyd and enforcer Luke Gamble to the team.

Having won the toss Ilkley elected to play into the wind which was blowing straight down the Kelleythorpe pitch. After a bright start with Boyd putting the Dalesmen into Driffield’s 22 possession was lost and suddenly Ilkley were back defending.

This time they were forced behind their line and to touch down. A drop out from under the posts into the teeth of the gale was far from an ideal outcome. The kick gained height then sailed back towards the Ilkley line eluding Kodie Brook for the on-rushing Henry Harrison to collect and weave his way over for the opening score, duly converted. 0-7.

In true style the Dalesmen hit back with some great phases and a five metre scrum. The scrum was well won and the ball whipped swiftly out wide to find Boyd with a gap on the wing to score Ilkley’s opener. 5-7.

Ilkley began to cough up penalties and two in close order presented the Woldsmen with long distance efforts at goal. The first attempt was wide but the second crept over the bar to increase the lead to 5-10.

With a couple of minutes on the clock Ilkley hit back with a Harry Harrison special. First a delicate kick from the wingman to the corner forced a lineout. With the lineout in great working order Peter Erskine aided and abetted by his lock partner Steve Costello set the ball up for the doughty Maplesden to feed his backs. Harrison coming into the line skipped through several tacklers to score under the posts. 12-10 at half -time.

Malik actually strengthened a bit after the break but it was ball through hands that got the Dalesmen into gear. Ilkley’s back row of Gamble, Will Addyman and Jack Leibster was causing all sorts of problems. This time they disrupted a Driffield lineout. From the resulting scrum great pressure and phases took Ilkley to the Driffield line. A knock-on gave Ilkley the five metre scrum. Addyman picked up and fed Maplesden to barge over for the score. 19-10.

Now there came an imperceptible and probably inevitable change of momentum, mainly courtesy of referee Mr Dean Walker. The Dalesmen began to cough up penalties, most in areas of the pitch where there was little danger. But these indiscretions put the Woldsmen onto the front foot. For several minutes it seemed they had failed to reckon with Ilkley's solid defence which kept them at bay. However the seemingly inevitable score came and Driffield were back within two points. 19-17.

Back to business, Ilkley disrupted yet another Driffield scrum and somehow the ball found its way to Johnson. His delicate chip had Driffield with a lineout five metres out. Another disrupted set piece allowed Harrison to skip round several bemused defenders from all of 25 metres to score the bonus point try and his brace. 26-17.

Johnson then kicked into touch after Ilkley were awarded a penalty.. Some wonderful Ilkley phases proved irresistible and that man Harrison was given just enough room on the wing to squeeze in for his third hat trick of season. 31-17.

Following that Driffield heaped on pressure, and the dam finally burst and a try under the posts resulted. 31-24.

Back came the Dalesmen with constant pressure, Kristan Dobson and Brook both going close. Driffield were pegged back in their own half, mainly in their 22. Gallant defending looked to be holding the Ilkley onslaught at bay but at last the most delicate of grubbers from the revived King and a blistering run saw Boyd catch up with with the ball as it rolled over the Driffield line for the clinching try and his brace. 36-24.

The final couple of minutes was played out without incident and skipper for the day Johnson ended proceedings with an ugly kick to touch.

Ilkley move on next week to the east coast for the rearranged fixture, originally frustrated by storm Arwen, at Scarborough’s Scalby Road ground.