It was a bright and breezy day at Wirral for this decider as to who would progress to the Regional 1 Shield Semi Final. Unfortunately, Ilkley did not make a bright and breezy start succumbing to early pressure from Wirral resulting in a succession of penalties against them and three tries from quick and slick play. Ilkley had hardly any possession during the first 20 minutes but it was obviously a tall order to overcome this deficit of 17 points.
However, with true Ilkley grit they forced their way back into contention and attacked the Wirral line. Good running took Ilkley into the Wirral half and young Ben Walker was put away for what seemed a certain try but a high tackle prevented him scoring and which should have been a penalty try. Ilkley ran the penalty and Kodie Brook forced his way over for an excellent try converted by the reliable Chuckie Ramsay. Captain Joe Lowes spearheaded the fightback in his usual determined and forceful manner resulting in Ilkley keeping possession and Wirral’s turn to feel the pressure. During this time Wirral handed out some unsavoury and illegal play with No 8, Will Addyman, suffering a kick straight in the face from Wirral’s No.12 followed by their No 10 handing out a punch, both of which merited a red card.
The first half ended with the score at 17 – 7 to Wirral but with Ilkley still in the game and capable of winning it. However, the second half began with Ilkley conceding a scrum penalty and followed by a penalty try as Ilkley were adjudged to have brought down the maul. Captain Joe Lowes collected the yellow card. Wirral then began building more pressure with their No. 10 kicking another penalty to the five metre line. Ilkley successfully defended the ensuing maul on their line but shortly afterwards missed tackles let in Wirral for another converted try.
With 14 men and playing uphill Ilkley were under the cosh but, in true form when the odds are against them, they fought back with their scrum pushing back Wirral reciprocating their first half pressure. Ilkley’s replacements came on and they tightened up their game. The referee, however, then missed a blatant crossing by Wirral and it seemed at this point that most decisions went against Ilkley. Two further penalties against Ilkley were converted by Wirral to bring the score to 37 – 7 in their favour. However, Ilkley did not give up and with their now dominant scrum followed by good running and passing No. 8 Will Addyman crashed over for a try followed by more scrum pressure by Ilkley. A scrum penalty to Ilkley, incurred from foul play by Wirral, put them on the attack and they battered the Wirral line with a converted try scored by the dependable Rob Sigsworth. 37 – 19.
Ilkley didn’t deserve to win this game after falling behind so much at the start. However, they did redeem themselves somewhat in the second half fightback and can now take a well deserved rest before getting to grips with the new law change from the 1st July in pre season training.