Match Report by Ben McDonald
On a perfect day for running rugby Ilkley welcomed Otley Ensians to Stacks Field for a lunchtime kickoff. Otley previously won the reverse fixture 32 -19.
Right from the kick off the Otley pack took advantage of some early penalties given by the match official. They sent in heavy horses to charge at the Ilkley defence which stood firm. Eventually under this sustained pressure the defensive line was broken by a perambulating lighthouse who stretched for the line. Leo Hurst put in a fantastic tackle to dislodge the ball and maintain the status quo. The pressure was unrelenting and the Ilkley side were forced to make repeated tackles to keep Otley's very large pack at bay. After 10 minutes camped in their own 22 Ilkley turned over the ball and Fergus Ramage went on a barnstorming run to relieve the pressure.
Ilkley were too frantic in possession and persistently fumbled the ball. They needed to cool their jets. An Ilkley scrum on the Otley 22 gave a chance to send the Ilkley 12 down the middle. Young Olly McDonald refused to be tackled, with a mixture of handoffs and brute strength he was unlucky to be brought down inches from the try line. The ball presentation was rapid and Thomas Ridgeway made no mistake with a mispass to Jake Rochford to score.
Otley were not going to lie down and came straight back at Ilkley. As they approached Ilkley's 22 an isolated player had the ball ripped from his grasp by Captain Gazeley. The ball was passed out to McDonald who charged into the awaiting Otley midfield. They once again struggled to contend with the power of the run and he broke through three defenders. As he approached the halfway line there was open space. The Otley back three rallied and their fullback fearlessly closed down the Ilkley Express. A deft chip ahead allowed him to sail past the fullback and then it was a footrace with the two wings. He opened his legs and showed his class, as he out ran the cover defence to gather the ball and slam it over the try line. A true try of the season contender. Ridgeway added the extras.
After the halftime break both sides saw their scrum halves carded following a featherweight scuffle to rival McGuigan v Pedroza at Loftus Road. Ilkley readjusted and Jack Gilbert went to stand off. A dominant five metre scrum the ball was slickly fed to Gilbert. With the majority of the defence preparing for another run from the 12, the intelligent mispass enabled the ball to be fed out wide to the Ilkley wing Ned to dive gracefully over the line. Ridgeway once again added the extras.
Otley were beginning to feel the pace of the game and Ilkley quickly scored another try. The mounting pressure from the constant forward battering resulted in quick ball going to Gilbert. He ran for the line, however he was held back. He had the presence of mind to flick the ball to the very grateful Taz Dal Molin. He forced his way through a crowd of players to ground a richly deserved try, to give him the bragging rights at Prince Henry's the following day.
Otley responded with some spirited play, however it didn't matter how hard they tried Ilkley were not going to relinquish their clean sheet.
Ilkley continue to improve match after match. Their defence is incredible and with genuine try scorers all over the pitch they are becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Final score Ilkley 26 - Otley 0