Ilkley Centurions vs Ripon Hornblowers, Match Report by Rob Collins
Following on from two tough fixtures against North Ribblesdale and Yarnbury the Centurions knew this fixture would require a massive effort in personnel standing up given the injuries beginning to stack up. One may say we are truly in the overdraft of our bank account of players.
The city boys were the first side to take the illustrious unbeaten record from the Centurions and their following match report was all the fuel the side needed to stimulate a response from the Centurions.
The Ripon outfit certainly looked the part hitting their warm up like a grey hound out of the traps and with a sprinkling of South Sea Islanders they were moving the ball and hitting lines like a well oiled machine. The Centurions on the other hand didn't start warming up until half an hour before the kick off with some players just happy to be standing from the previous nights escapades. No drama there.
The game kicked off at a furious pace and the returning Dean Miller immediately set out his stall with some very strong ball carrying which led to the first try of the match inside two minutes with Jack De Ath being the grateful recipient of a pass from Dean Miller to canter in like the prancing pony he is. Jack also added the extras, 7-0.
Any hope Ripon had of settling things down given the shock didn't happen, Dean Miller again thundering through some strong defence fed Ben Rawnsley who also made light work of his would be defender. Dean and Ben going together like a fine red wine and cheese board. De Ath obliged with the extras 14-0. Still on the charge the forwards led by the charismatic Josh Ware turned over the restart and worked the ball toward the corner for the debutant man mountain of a winger Harry Blessington to cross. JD was unable to add the extras his quads unable to muster the required power.
Following stern words under the sticks Ripon seemed ready to respond however the Ilkley backs seemed to have other ideas, Harry Brow enjoying the freedom of the main club pitch caught the ball and set of weaving his way to the try line with no one seemingly able to lay a finger on him. His finish was kind enough for De Ath to add the extras 26-0. This with 20 minutes of the game played had the gantry bouncing with the champagne corks flying and tweed blazers being thrown in the air.
The Ripon pack began to come into the game from this point and began exchanging artillery with the Ilkley pack which set out for an intriguing rest of the half, shuddering hits from both sides with neither side giving quarter to the other led to the Ilkley tight head Alex Horner given his marching orders for a badly timed tackle that led to the Ripon player being knocked unconscious. Whilst not malicious the red was right. All the best to the injured player in his swift return.
Following the break in play Ripon responded with a well worked move via the backs that gave them just reward 26-7. Half time.
Talk ensued between the men and it was decided the forwards would play without an 8 and allow the Ilkley backs the freedom to keep at it and manage the dangerous Ripon back line.
Within two minutes of kick off Harry Brow was back in the action again running onto great work by Miller and Rawnsley to dot down with De Ath adding the extras 33-7.
The Ilkley pack being a man down were getting through a phenomenal amount of dog work, Joe Core growing more into the game leading the way alongside Sam Hughes with notable carries and tackles frustrating the Ripon opposition. The prancing pony Jack de Ath was directing operations and his last input before being subbed was his second try, clearly not used to so much meat pie he cart wheeled over the line and added the extras, 40-7. A solid afternoon from the Ilkley stalwart with a personal haul of 20 points.
A yellow card was to follow for the Ilkley 2nd row Josh Ware for a deemed late tackle. Down to 13 men it should have been hatches down and dig in, the Ilkley backs had other ideas and not wanting to be shackled down cut loose with both Jarrod Trout and Harry Brow crossing both being converted by the ever green Lee Brown 54-7. Full time.
The talk on the gantry was this performance was potentially the best in years and it was hard to disagree. Notable stand outs were Dean Miller, Harry Brow and Sam Hughes however the MOM was awarded to Jack De Ath. Also a massive shout to all the Ilkley forwards who gave away at least a stone a man and had to play a half with a man down. This reporter will also apologise to Josh Ware for having to do a ridiculous amount of minutes on the field.
The next game sees the Centurions at home to Baildon 3rd December. Always a close game.