Saturday 3rd December, Alnwick 1st XV 34 pts, ILKLEY 1st XV 10 pts
There was an air of optimism before this match at one of the league’s more attractive locations, but even after a sparkling start, Ilkley’s demons returned to consign the Dalesmen to another defeat to the tune of 34 points to 10.
Results elsewhere meant that there was no change in the bottom three and next week’s fixture at Stacks Field against Paviors has assumed immense proportions in what has now become a relegation scrap.
That bright start saw Ilkley take an early lead, with Harry Smith’s second attempt at goal sailing over to make it 3.0 to the visitors. Ilkley’s positivity had caused some discomfort to their hosts, who finding themselves behind, raised their game accordingly.
A missed touch from a penalty handed the advantage back to Alnwick and before you knew it, Alnwick had countered, won a penalty for offside and levelled the scores, thanks to Evan Moir’s boot.A kick from the Alnwick defence was knocked on by Ilkley, leading from a scrum on their 22.
A bog-standard strike and miss move allowed centre Sam Eggleston in, Moir’s conversion making it 10.3.
Ilkley were then let off the hook as the Alnwick Ten kicked a penalty dead, the visitors having messed up a line and conceded. That advantage gained, Ilkley set another attack, with centre Kieran Wileyman breaking the line, not for the last time.
The Alnwick defence held firm though and with Ilkley conceding another penalty for holding on, the kick found touch some 10m out. Again, some basic rugby skills enabled flanker Charlie Farmer to claim the try, Moir’s conversion increasing the score to 17.3.
Harry Harrison replaced Smith and Joe Lowes made a welcome reappearance.Ilkley’s promising next attack broke down with crossing in the centre, the resultant penalty taking Alnwick to Ilkley’s 22. The line won, the ball was flashed right and despite some last ditch tackling, a desperate Ilkley defence was deemed to have entered the breakdown from the side. Alnwick opted for the scrum and Number Eight Ben Golthorpe crashed over.
The conversion failed, but Alnwick were 22.3 ahead. Ilkley mounted a patient 10-phase assault, but Alnwick soaked it all up before the half-time whistle went.The opening 10 minutes of the second half looked promising for the Dalesmen and after hammering away for what seemed to be an eternity, the Alnwick defence knocked on a Harry Harrison kick. From the resulting scrum, Alnwick drifted offside and Ilkley opted for the kick to touch. A clean take, a controlled maul and J-J Johnson peeled off to touch down. Chuckie Ramsay’s conversion made it 22.10 and provided a glimmer of hope for the Dalesmen.
That glimmer though was swiftly extinguished as two penalties in Alnwick’s favour took them to Ilkley’s 5m line. In similar fashion to Ilkley’s try, minutes before, the line was won and second-row Hugh Todd broke away to score, Moir’s boot adding the extras to make it 29.10.
Alnwick were now undoubtably feeling very comfortable, with some justification, but Ilkley were not giving up, finally putting together some good handling and breaking the Alnwick defensive line.
Unfortunately, Ilkley’s endeavours came to naught and there only remained the try of the match,as Alnwick won a line in their own 10m zone and then flashed the ball wide. Some superlative support play led to a length pop the pitch try, finished with some style by winger Andre Ord. Moir’s missed kick was irrelevant as the score ratcheted up to 34.10.
Ilkley still did their level best to notch another score that would in fact have accurately reflected the effort they had put in, but it was a not to be and the match ended with some rather undignified handbags, following a yellow card to Alnwick second-row Oli Tulip.
Another whole-hearted effort by the Dalesmen, yet another defeat. This unfortunate run will surely end soon and what better time than the next game against Paviors and for that matter, the one after that against Sandal. The Dalesmen have beaten both this season, so must be due a couple of doubles.