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Dalesmen squeeze past basement club courtesy of referee’s calls

West Bridgford (Nottingham) vs ILKLEY R.F.C

Venue: West Bridgford, Nottingham

Result: West Bridgford 19 pts, Ilkley 20 pts

Match Report by John Hope

Ilkley’s trusty band of supporters were early arrivals at the modest West Bridgford club located in a leafy suburb of Nottingham. Both sets of club officials were cautiously optimistic but knew that a win was vital for both their clubs. 

Ilkley were missing last week’s match winner Kristan Dobson and lineout specialist Peter Erskine. They welcomed Harry Harrison back to the fold to take Dobson’s place in the centre.

Having been put through the wringer at Stacks Field in their too close for comfort home win against Scunthorpe another extraordinary match this week had supporters reaching for the tranquillisers and something a little stronger in the warmth of the clubhouse after the match.

Ilkley got off to a very positive start and immediately put the pressure on the home side.

However what turned out to be the flavour of their game - loose passing, injudicious penalties and failure keep hold of the ball - frustrated 3 or 4 forays during which 2 kickable penalties were turned down in favour of the touchline and lineouts. The third one, for a high shot on Harry Harrison was in front of the posts and Chuckie Ramsay duly took the three points to take the lead.

The restart coughed up a penalty to West Bridgford for not releasing, another feature of the referee’s influence on the game, which plagued ILKLEY throughout. Having resisted the resulting onslaught on their own line, ILKLEY cleared their lines, but an infringement in the resulting lineout put West Bridgford back on the ILKLEY line with a lineout. Three phases and the big pack were over for the opening try. 3-5.

From the restart ILKLEY racked up three penalties in their favour. They set up camp on the home side’s line. The drive was just short. A 5 metre scrum was won and the ball sent left towards Harrison. Horror on horror as the pass was cleverly intercepted by the West Bridgford full back. He scampered clear to touch down under the posts. Ilkley were behind 12-3. A quarter of the match played.

The next 20 minutes were a mental torment for both sets of supporters as mistakes and penalties a-plenty littered this bruising encounter which saw Charlie Head make an early exit, the ever reliable Nathan Hyde replacing him. West Bridgford’s 15 also succumbed to a head injury. 

The half was drawing to a close when young Ben Walker latched on to a loose ball and positively flew over heavy going and round several would-be tacklers to release Floris v.Oekel down the right. The pass inside found Archie Elgood on a diagonal line heading for the corner but v.Oekel was cleaned out late while Elgood was bustled into touch just short.

His pass inside should have found the Flying Dutchman but he was grounded by the off-the-ball tackle. The referee’s arm went up for a penalty try. The offender was further punished with a yellow card. Patently the decision was a correct one, but definitely not to the liking of the home supporters. 

Ilkley went in the interval 12-10 in arrears.

Ilkley would have to up their game to retain even a slender lead. Coaches Rhys Morgan and Andrew Clithero’s halftime talk would be crucially important. To exacerbate the Dalesmen’s problems, skipper Joe Lowes’ troublesome back gave Luke Gamble his opportunity to make his mark on a match, the kind of which the wily veteran revels in.

Regrettably the half time tea had more effect than the team talk and the second half served up pretty much the same fayre as the first.

In fairness the Dalesmen did look the better side for much of the half with Walker, Kieron Wileyman and Harrison all making good yards in the backs and Hyde, Ollie Ham and Rob Sigsworth providing good ball for Tom Dickinson, Alex Powell, Max Jones and Gamble to gain valuable yards. However the hard work came to nought as injudicious passes, knock ons and oh! those penalties frustrated progress.

West Bridgford were restored to 15 but ILKLEY were back on their line with a scrum. The ball went down the line. The move was stopped by what looked a deliberate knock on but a scrum was given 15 metres out. 

The penalty came. 

Elgood went quick and over for a try under the posts. Ramsay obliged. At last ILKLEY had their noses in front. 17-12. 

Calm and game management were now required. But no, the Dalesmen don’t do calm! 

Three penalties to West Bridgford followed. Alex Powell was forced off with a shoulder injury with only Ed Brown, a back, to replace him. 

Another wild (but very marginal) forward pass gave West Bridgford a scrum 30 metres out. Seemingly inevitably, they won the scrum and set up the centre to crash over pretty much under the posts to snatch back the lead 17-19.

Now it was the Dalesmen who benefitted from poor play by the home side. A scrum on half way took ILKLEY back into the West Bridgford 22. A scrum and then a penalty saw Harrison over the line but the score was ruled out for crossing.

With time running out and three more penalties relieving pressure on the West Bridgford line somehow a lineout was turned over and then a penalty coughed up close to the line. 

The penalty goal would win it!

Chuckie Ramsay called for the tee.

With the weight of the world on his shoulders the ground fell silent, but for someone banging on the advertising hoardings.

Ramsay began his run-up.

Two West Bridgford forwards charged.

The kick sailed harmlessly wide.

Was that it?


The referee had spotted the illegal charge.

Kick to re-taken.

Of course the referee’s ruling was 100% correct.

Ramsay stole a yard towards the goal posts.

This time it was straight and true.

The cheer from the ILKLEY supporters could probably be heard back home!

West Bridgford 19, Ilkley 20. Four precious league points to take home.

This week ILKLEY return to Stacks Field where enigmatic York are the visitors.

The Dalesmen will be under the watchful eye of the club’s Life Members and Patrons.

Ilkley’s 2nd XV played a hastily rearranged match against a Harrogate XV and came out 24-22 winners, having lent Harrogate players to make decent game of it. Thanks to everyone who made the game possible, opening up the club to enable the game to be switched from a waterlogged Harrogate.

The ILKLEY Centurions just pipped Burley 2nd XV 12-7 in a lively low-scoring game.


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