Old Otliensians vs ILKLEY at Chaffers Field, Otley Result: Old Otliensians 20 pts, ILKLEY 29 pts
The red and black ribbons once again adorn the Aire Wharfe Cup, but not before the Ensians had given the Dalesmen a fair old fright.
The superb Chaffers Field pitch provided the venue for a pulsating final between these two old foes. Both have been finalists, mainly against each other, more times than anyone cares to remember since this famous trophy was first contested in the early ‘70’s. Ensians were coming off the back of a successful season finishing runners up in their league. Ilkley had destroyed their opposition in the two rounds on the way to the final. A fearsome encounter was anticipated. It didn’t disappoint.
Referee Mr Andy Williamson found himself intervening more times than he would have wished and the ILKLEY side particularly couldn’t or wouldn’t pay attention to how he wanted the game to be played and they suffered as a result.
It all started well for the Dalesmen. After an overhit kick off the scrum produced three penalties. A lineout close in produced an unstoppable drive to give ILKLEY an early 5-0 lead.
Then Ensians were awarded a penalty and Ilkley’s Luke Gamble a yellow card after the intervention of the assistant referee.
The resulting penalty to touch produced a converted try for Ensians. Quickly after, the man over out wide produced another and the Dalesmen were behind 5-12.
The Ensians tails were up and they battered at the ILKLEY line. The defence held. Two lineouts, one each, were ruled not straight and from the ILKLEY scrum a skied clearance gave Ensians yet another penalty and lineout. A knock on gave ILKLEY a lifeline and they broke out from the scrum, taking the ball full length for a try finished by the flying flanker Will Downes from 30 metres. Smith’s conversion levelled the scores. 12-12.
Errors and penalties dominated the play up to half time and both sides looked as though they needed a breather. A red kite flew over to observe proceedings but left again before the second half began. No carrion prey around Chaffers Field tonight though there were several battered and bloodied bodies out there.
Ensians resumed their onslaught aided and abetted by the continuing propensity of ILKLEY to incur the wrath of Mr Williamson. Nine in all and another yellow card were conceded in the lead up to Ensians’ next try. Ilkley were jackalled on half way. The lineout on ILKLEY’s 22 was won and the ball was transferred with accurate and penetrating passes out wide for a try in the corner. Ensians were back in front 12-17.
Back came the home side. This time a wayward lineout on Ensians 22 and another on the 10 metre line produced an Ensians scrum and two more penalties in loose play, the second of which incurred yet another yellow card, this one for an almost impossible high tackle by Popely (really?). The penalty goal put Ensians 8 points clear with a quarter remaining. 12-20.
Harry Smith was the instigator and finisher of the fightback as an ILKLEY penalty found touch deep in Ensians 22. Another penalty saw the ball sent wide but Jack Brown was unlucky to be ruled foot in touch. Ilkley then had a scrum which was well won and a cleverly weighted pass found Smith on an unstoppable line to score. His kick rattled the upright but only 3 points now separated the two sides. 17-20.
A couple of unforced errors gave the now vocal ILKLEY supporters the jitters but the opportunities Ensians were given were snuffed out by a determined Dalesmen defence. Ensians’ race was run when the excellent flying flanker Downes swooped onto a loose pass and flew up the field stepping out of two tackles to scored superb try. 22-20.
Then Smith delivered the coup de grace as he put boot to ball from deep in his own half to find touch on the second bounce inside Ensians 22 for a 50/20 lineout. The lineout was won well and driven over for the try which Smith had the pleasure of converting from wide out. Final score 29-20.
The trophy was presented by competition organiser, Yorkshire RFU President and Yarnbury stalwart of 60 years Mr John Riley. Mr Riley has single-handedly organised the Aire Wharfe Cup and its plate sibling for more years than he or anyone else cares to remember. A huge vote of thanks go to him for his efforts.
Ilkley’s season is now successfully wrapped up and their cup runneth over ahead of the Club Dinner including the players awards which takes place on Friday of this week.
Congratulations to all the players who have played in all the teams during the season, to the coaches and on field support staff and all those many volunteers who put in the hard work and effort and not inconsiderable cost to make it possible.
Ilkley salutes you.
Signing off and signing out