1st XV - Report
21 Unanswered second half points saw a reinvigorated YM safely home
The first match of a new Yorkshire 1 campaign saw a number of welcome returning faces together with a sprinkling of new recruits
Having been on the wrong end of two heavy defeats at the hands of Ilkley last season the home side had a good idea what to expect from the visitors, who came with fresh reinforcements to establish their credentials for this years promotion challenge.
From the start it looked like more of the same as the visitors, through a big dominant pack put the YM under the cosh. The YM youngsters were well outgunned in terms of height and weight and the visitors were quick to make their advantage count. The home sides cause was not helped by a number of uncharacteristic errors which resulted in a lack of possession and a long early period in defence.
After the first few minutes Ilkley had a try on the board through their new winger Tuli Makaafi after he had cleverly backed up an Ilkley attack, creating a gap which he skipped through for a touch down to the left of the posts. Goalkicker Tom Collard failed to make the conversion but the YM knew they were in for a hard afternoon. 0-5
On their first incursion into Ilkley territory the YM were awarded a penalty which Stead converted 3-5. But this was quickly wiped out when Collard landed one at the other end of the field, both having been awarded for offside. 3-8
On 18 minutes the visitors were on the board again after a strong driving maul saw flanker McKenzie crash over for a touch down . Collard added the extras this time.3-15
YM pulled one back after the backs showed what they could do with Stead on hand to finish off the move. He also landed the conversion. 10-15.
Unfortunately Stead went from hero to zero very quickly when almost from the restart his attempt to collect the ball saw it rebound off his foot onto his hand pushing the ball into the path of the onrushing Ilkley full back Sam Boot who gleefully accepted the free gift and scuttled past the unfortunate Stead to get an unopposed try. Collard was on hand with the extras and it was looking ominous for the YM who truthfully at that stage looked a well beaten side. 10-22
YM came back onto the attack and were looking as though they were making headway when they lost a ball against the head in the scrum. The Ilkley scrum half saw room behind the defensive line and chipped the ball into space for the following centre Monks to collect and sprint to the line. Collard added the extras and at 10-29 going into half time it looked as though the game was over as a contest.
Half time 10-29
Then the sun came out.
From the restart and playing with the wind the YM looked like a different side. With an abundance of pace they stopped playing Ilkleys game and started playing their own.
Ably supported by what must be the fittest and fastest pack in the league the backs began to dazzle. The returning Ed Barber suddenly sparked into life and he started to cause mayhem among the Ilkley ranks. Time and again he made the break offloading cleverly and making the Ilkley men work very hard in defence. With Ryder and Whitehead always up in support and Beever always lurking the visitors didn’t know whether they were coming or going. In a complete reversal of the first half, the visitors were now pinned back in their own half defending for all they were worth.
They did well to hold back the tide for 15 minutes but it was inevitable that the dam would break under the strain and so it proved.
Perhaps the turning point was the sin binning of Ilkley winger Makaafi for fighting after he took umbridge at being tackled very robustly by Josh Lumb. In the melee which followed he was adjudged to have been the main instigator and was sent on his way to cool off.
With a man down the visitors were always going to be stretched out wide and it was the returning Adam Ryder who got things moving after bursting through 3 tackles to sprint to the line. Stead converted and the YM were back in the game 17-22
Within minutes Barber had executed a clever chip over the oncoming defence, collected the ball and was on his way to the line with defenders in pursuit, he waited his moment and then gave a perfect pass to Mark Whitehead who was up in support for the number 8 to get his first points of the season. Barber stepped up for the conversion as by this time Stead had left the field after injuring his ankle. 24-29
The final score was left to Adam Ryder after another good break by Barber saw his colleague in support. Once Ryder had the ball there was no way he was to be denied powering passed the remnants of the Ilkley defence. Barber added the extra points on offer to put the YM in the lead for the first time in the game. 31-29.
Although Ilkley rallied a little they were never really back in the match until almost on full time when Makaafi picked up a loose ball in his own 22 and galloped out of defence looking as though he was going to go the length of the field. A supreme effort by hooker Ben Hill saw the tackle of the game as he came across field and hit the winger side on at pace smashing him into touch and receiving deserved applause from the crowd and also Makaafi who acknowledge the quality of the tackle.
Final Score 31-29.
Stead, Beever, Ryder, Barber, Marshall, Clayton, Wilson, Dyke (Steve), Hill, Wrafter, Dyke (Stu), Bell, Walker, Hodge, Whitehead. SUBS. Lumb, Housley, Neilly.
By Martin Hunt