Ilkley 3rd XV 36 Roundhegians 2nd XV 34
Being six games into the 23/24 season the timing seemed overdue for a much anticipated and over exaggerated match report, so to appease the mob of baying fans here you go.
Whether or not it is over exaggerated, I the author will leave you to decide.
Roundhegians arrived with 14 men and a society ref they had managed to dig out (much obliged to all involved) to even matters up, players were exchanged to keep the game competitive. A concerning note from the ref about the game being stopped if the score line became silly gave the impression the the Roundhegians were understrength, how wrong we were.
Straight from the off, Ilkley were caught off guard and and immediately on the back foot, it was apparent Roundhegians weren’t here to make up the numbers. They were rewarded for the their pressure with an early try just wide of the posts within minutes 0-7.
Things went from bad to worse from the restart, immediately Ilkley spilled the ball and back down the pitch rumbled Roundhegians, attempting to rally the troops Martin Assame attempted to physically dominate his opposite centre with a big hit. The force of the collision rocked the veteran centre and he was taken off for a head injury assessment. Enter the fore Billy Evans one of three new recruits from Seacroft Sharks.
Billy immediately made his presence known coming in on a crash ball from Ryan Clark (remember the name) to bring the scoreline back to 5-7. There was no stopping the carry.
This unfortunately didn’t wake the Ilkley boys up and Roundhegians began to take control of what can only be described as one of the most bizarre games this scribe has seen in 32 years of rugby. A couple of penalties saw Round’s stretch out to 5-13 with discipline seemingly becoming an issue from the referee’s perspective, Ilkley could not engage in a ruck or maul without seemingly being at fault. Respite came in a brief shot with Ilkley managing to get over the line to bring the scores to 12-13 but this was as brief as it sounds.
Again the whistle blew and again Round’s obliged with the penalty, followed by a converted try 12-23. Frustrations were now evident the first of the sides 3 yellow cards awarded to the Ilkley skipper Ben Rawnsley. With stand in skipper Dan Snowden shifting to stand off, the shout came to hold out till half time, Daniel had other ideas. The forwards led by Tom Morley and Alex Horner were beginning to work their way down field and in a moment of madness/magic, Snowden called for the ball and launched a cross field bomb that landed in the hands of veteran fullback Jarrod Trout much to the dumb founded silence on the touchline. Converted 19-23.
The talk at half time was the need to wake up, as clearly we had fallen into the trap of thinking the opposition weren’t up to matters. Substitutions were made with renewed optimism.
The optimism was wiped out immediately. Ilkley were immediately on the back foot with a flurry of penalties blown for and in no time at all were down by another try and two penalties 19-34. Rawnsley returned to the field only to be penalised again which in turn led to the skipper choosing to be subbed as he was evidently walking into a red card. Snowden attempting to steady the ship also became frustrated leading to the VC also being subbed off. To say matters were bizarre would be an understatement no amount of words from the touchline could calm things down. It seemed the game was up with a further two yellow cards dished out to Billy and Tom H.
Clark was moved to stand off and this seemed to awaken the Ilkley boys, it wasn’t over yet.
The forwards now being led by Alex Burnett were beginning to go through the phases without being penalised and managed to work their way down field, allowing the returning James Duffy to smash his way through tackles to score under the posts, converted 26-34. With the clock ticking down with minutes to go Clark launched the back line on another incursion into Round’s territory with Joe Ambler and Callum Clayton carrying hard allowing Tom Morley to come thundering in to score a final converted try 33-34.
With a minute to go Ilkley took the restart and the forwards again set off down field squeezing every last bit out of the tank to get to the Round’s try line only for poor handling at the final pass letting them down. It seemed over, it wasn’t.
Following a brief moment of play, Ilkley were awarded a penalty just over the halfway line, kick to the corner it was over. All that was left was for a penalty from considerable distance. Ryan Clark stepped up with the tee, no way some were saying.
He smashed it over and the whistle blew 36-34. The fans on the gantry were screaming.
Quick mention to the players who played for Round’s, Stu Mcillraith, Alex Horner and Martin Hyde. Its a unsung hero that does that to keep a game competitive
All in all a frustrating game that Ilkley could and should have buried. We now look to the 18th November when North Ribblesdale visit Stacks Field. Revenge is on the cards from the loss three weeks ago up in Settle.
Word of note the above may be slightly inaccurate due to having to run touchline duties. Volunteers welcome.