AN archetypal April day set the scene for this encounter, but fortunately the cold wind, sunshine and hail mix did not affect the play in any way, Ilkley running out comfortable winners against Durham City, 54-10.

The bonus-point win means they retain their second place in the League, with two matches to play.

It didn’t go quite according to plan though, as the visitors were not to be taken lightly, despite their lowly position and when Ilkley threw out a sloppy pass, the ball was intercepted in the centre. A mad dash to the line and stand-off James Coxon scored in the corner after just three minutes.

Ilkley’s response was immediate and impressive, though a couple of overlaps were spurned and a couple of penalties conceded before Will Addyman was held up over the line, giving Durham a drop out from under the posts. Possession was regained by Ilkley ten metres out, but scrum-half Jack Maplesden’s passing options were limited by the referee’s positioning. No matter as Maplesden courteously moved her aside to score under the posts.

Johnson’s conversion put Ilkley into the lead.

Then it was Ilkley’s turn to profit from a poor chip through, as Harry Harrison scooped the ball up in his own half and won the race to the line for Ilkley’s second, also converted.

Ilkley’s next try came when a knock-on by Durham yielded a five metre scrum. Maplesden’s pass to Johnson was inch perfect and over he went, followed by a successful kick.

Ahead by 21-5 now, Ilkley took their foot off the gas somewhat and Durham took advantage from a territorial point of view, helped by a succession of penalties in their favour. Ilkley’s defence held though and that man Johnson cleared to 20m from Durham’s line.

From the next maul, Johnson cleverly delayed his pass to Harry Boyd, steaming in from the blind side and there was no stopping the winger, who touched down under the posts. Johnson made it four from four as the half-time whistle blew gently.

It didn’t take long for Ilkley to add to their score, as two minutes into the half, a great run by Addyman, a popped pass to Charlie Head and with the rampaging Luke Gamble on his shoulder, the coup de grace pass for the flanker to touch down under the posts. 35-5 after the kick.

A scrum won against the head by Ilkley highlighted the growing superiority of Ilkley’s pack and it wasn’t long before Harry Boyd’s pace proved too much for Durham’s defence on the right wing, after a superlative pass from Steve Costello. The conversion was missed, but Ilkley were 40-5 up.

Durham’s full-back Nathan Bushell was yellow-carded for obstructing Maplesden’s free-kick and on the hour, Ilkley were in full control.

Another catch in the line by the pick of the pack, Peter Erskine and Johnson took a great line to round the Durham defence and go under the posts, the extras duly added.

With a quarter of an hour to go, there was still time for two great tries. From a line-out some 30m out from the Durham goal-line, Ilkley’s pack displayed magnificent control to rumble forward and Head claimed the try on behalf of his forward-colleagues. Johnson’s kick concluded the scoring for his side. Kevin Showler pulled one back for a 54-10 fulltime score.