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Wharfedale Pressure Too Much For Colts

Ilkley 15 - Wharfedale 33

A mild unseasonably warm October afternoon greeted the green army of Wharfedale to Stacks Field.  Chris Sheryn returned to officiate. 

Ilkley were light in numbers, due to the usual pre Christmas public school commitments and mounting injury list.  Sad news came through that Fergus Ramage had sustained a broken jaw the previous day.  Fielding one substitute, Ilkley took a long hard look at themselves and came out gnashing like robbers dogs.

The early pressure was all Ilkley.  They disrupted Wharfedales play and executed textbook jackeling.  A penalty was awarded for hanging on to the ball 30 metres from the Wharfedale line.  Rahmbo duly stepped up and slotted straight through the middle.  

Wharfedale came back and their game plan was clear.  Kick the ball into the corners and set up catch and drive opportunities. This was the pattern of the match.  Ilkley showed incredible defensive discipline before eventually conceding to the umpteenth phase of play on the Ilkley line.  The try was converted.  Ilkley did not take a backwards step and set up play in midfield.  Rahmbo kicked skilfully to the corner and Shirt Robber and Head Boy chased down the winger who was retreating to gather the ball.  He was wrapped up and Rochford ripped the ball and dived over the line.  The conversion was added.  Ilkley were 10 - 7 in the lead.  They were playing an expansive game with the ball going wide to stretch the Wharfedale forwards. It was great to watch.  A couple of dropped balls or slightly misplaced passes cost Ilkley dearly and they couldn't profit from this eye-catching play.  Alas a couple of close calls went the way of Wharfedale and they were right back at Ilkley's 5 metre line with a line out. Once again the artillery battery stormed the line.  Ilkley by now had lost the services of prop Will Abbott, with Ollie Spink moving to fill the space and Henry Blakey moving from the wing to flank.  This was necessary as the front row replacement had surprisingly failed to show up following a booze fuelled session the night before.  The rugby club magistrates are currently swearing out a warrant for failing to attend.   The pressure mounted and rather unluckily the Blackpool Tower Scott was sent to the bin for bringing down a maul that had already self-destructed.  The 14 men showed determination, however the relentless pressure brought about the inevitable score.  

The half ended with Ilkley 10 -12 down.  Given the lack of numbers and now uncontested scrums the home side were up against it.  Wharfedale's best player, their large bearded number 8 had the freedom to run hard at Ilkley.  He accepted the invitation and Ilkley succumbed to two further catch and drive tries.

Ilkley, buoyed by the addition of Ben Holt, who had seen the flare, once again ran hard at the Wharfedale backs.  Some fantastic handling and direct running culminated in the try of the match. Running from deep in their own half a break from the Ilkley 12 fed the Head Boy who put Pullen into space.  The cover defence was across however the ball was recycled and Rochford was passed the ball.  15 yards out with two defenders in front he showed power and strength to carve through the defense.  The conversion narrowly missed.

Ilkley were pushing hard now and some "older" heads from Wharfedale disrupted the play with the darker side of rugby.  Prop Freeman complained too loudly about being punched in the face, causing the referee to award a penalty against him.  This had a ripple effect amongst the crowd and a few comments were aimed at the official.  The succession of penalties took Wharfedale to yet another forward drive for the line.  The number 8 crossed again.  The try was converted.  The Ilkley 12 commented to his teammates to stop this player.  The referee thought the comment was made about him and produced a red card and blew full time.  

Thankfully once the situation had calmed down, Mr Sheryn realised the misinterpretation and rescinded the card.  Sincere thanks go to him as it showed common sense and prevented an injustice. 

Wharfedale played to their game plan and Ilkley must learn how to counteract it.  The players should be really proud of their efforts.  They showed heart and character when it really was required.  The Wharfedale pack is formidable and the 8 is a quality player, however Ilkley's backs had the beating of theirs and a better rub of the green would have seen a few more tries and who knows?  Wharfedale now leapfrog Ilkley at the top of the table.   

We go again next week, away at Wetherby.


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