An oft heard remark about Regional One North East is that any side can beat any other and starting a match as bottom Club does not necessarily mean that their players are expecting yet another drubbing from their higher placed opposition.
For the second week in succession, that higher placed Club was Ilkley and as the Dalesmen found out right from the kick-off, Scunthorpe were in no mood to roll over and take it on the chin.
A crisp winter’s afternoon, with the temperature nudging double figures greeted the teams as they trotted out for what was to be an entertaining spectacle.
From the first scrum of the day, won by the visitors, the ball flashed down the backs and winger Will Marlow found some space and fought his way into the opposition 22 before being bundled into touch. Scunthorpe then cleared their line, but Ilkley won the lineout and the home backs wandered offside on the 10m line, giving Charles Morgan the perfect opportunity to put his side ahead.
Ilkley did not deal with the kick off well and soon found themselves deep in their own 22. Ben Magee’s long clearance kick was well gathered by Scunthorpe’s right wing,Jack Murr, but he was clattered by the onrushing Ilkley attack. Unfortunately, this left their blind side open and that was the corridor that Scunthorpe countered in. Some slick interpassing allowed centre James Dyson to touch down close to the posts. Will Robinson kicked the extras and Ilkley were 7-3 down.
Worse was to come when Ilkley went offside at a maul 10m out, but referee Mr Mulroy - who had an excellent game - played advantage and the ball was spun out wide for winger Lewis Talbot to score in the corner. The conversion sailed wide - 12-3.
Ilkley’s lineout woes resurfaced and a promising attacking position was lost. Scunthorpe took full advantage and only a final forward pass saved Ilkley’s bacon. However, Scunthorpe smelt blood and when a clearance kick was charged down, the home forwards took over with an unstoppable rolling maul, which led to a try for Number 8 Ben Hyde. Robinson was successful and his side were now 19-3 up.
At this point, Ilkley were severely under the cosh, but gamely fought back. A penalty was won, but the kick drifted away. Some smart handling between backs and forwards earned another penalty and this time, Morgan bisected the uprights to make it 19-6.
Ben Walker, returning to the right wing for Ilkley had a good run and chipped ahead. The kick was returned with interest, but Scunthorpe conceded at the ruck. Morgan put his side back into the opposition 22 and finally, after several phases of savvy possession, skipper Joe Lowes scored Ilkley’s first try, converted by Morgan to make it 19-13.
Again Ilkley made a fist of the kick off and Scunthorpe found themselves just 10m out. Another powerful forwards’ rumble looked to have earned a try, but the ball was held up and Ilkley were able to clear with the drop-out from under the posts and there was no further score as the half-time whistle blew.
Another kick-off was dealt with badly and then a deliberate knock on gave the home side the first advantage in the second half, Robinson’s penalty stretching the lead to 22-13.
Back swarmed the Scunthorpe attack and another penalty conceded just a few meters from the Ilkley line. This time the quick-one option was taken and Murr scampered over for his second, bonus-point try. The conversion attempt failed.
Now it was Ilkley’s turn to impress. A bullocking run by Max Jones set up a sweet move in the backs, Magee timing his entry into the line to perfection. A clever switch in the centre and over went Jordan Cummings without a finger being laid on him. Morgan’s kick brought the score to 27-20.
Scunthorpe went close, but Ilkley were saved by a huge clearance kick by Mattie Sheard. Their line won though, the Scunthorpe pack ground their way forward and their maul was simply unstoppable, lock Nick Dyson claiming the honours. Robinson’s conversion competed his side’s scoring for the day and Ilkley were now trailing by 14 points at 34-20.
Just as they had looked down and out at 19-3, this was a big deficit to overcome with just 15 minutes of play left.
A well-earned scrum on Scunthorpe 10m line was well won and scrum-half Jack Maplesden’s long pass found Walker and the winger did an excellent job of scoring in the corner, despite the attentions of the Scunthorpe defence. Morgan’s kick looked good from the moment it left his boot and the score was now 34-27.
Squeaky-bum time now as Ilkley throw the kitchen sink at a tiring Scunthorpe defence. Luke Gamble replaces Lowes and immediately makes his presence felt. Ilkley nearly score via Walker again, but Scunthorpe counter. Ilkley win a free kick at a line out, but then knock on. Back into opposition territory and we’re in injury time.
Ilkley win a line and surge forward. The move breaks down 10m out from the Scunthorpe posts, but possession is retained. Down the backline and it’s that man Walker again with a brilliant touch-down in the corner. Two for him and a bonus point for his team.
All attention switched to Morgan as he steadied himself for the kick. Could he repeat the success of his last conversion and tie the match? Alas, no, as the kick was pushed wide.
There was just one more minute to play and all the home side wanted to do was kick the ball dead and when they won the last line of the game, that is just what they did.
So, two bonus points for the Dalesmen, which at 19-3 and 34-20 down respectively had not looked at all likely. This showed fine fighting spirit and the side deserves immense admiration for the way it twice fought back so strongly.
Taking this attitude forward to next week’s delayed fixture at home against Driffield should mean that despite the Woldsmen’s relatively lofty position, they can be beaten.