(Yorkshire Shield, 2nd round)
DESPITE the bitter cold, both teams produced an entertaining Shield clash as YM battled their way into the third round.
The expectation was that Ilkley’s pack would dominate in the close encounters, while YM’s backs would have the edge in attack, but as it turned out, it was closer in the forwards than in previous meetings as YM’s young pack stood up well under scrutiny.
The home side showed a willingness to spread the ball from the start, and took the lead after a sublime beak from Lloyd Bentley, playing at outside centre, which saw him clear the cover and sprint upfield with Ed Barber and Mark Whitehead in support.
Barber took Bentley’s inside pass before releasing Whitehead in space who put the ball down to the left of the posts and Gavin Stead added the conversion.
Within minutes, YM were on the board again after a lucky ricochet off Stead’s knee was followed up by the speedy winger who collected the loose ball inside his own half and then outpaced the Ilkley defence for a well-taken individual try.
Ilkley replied with a lot of pressure but were halted time and again by the ferocity of YM’s tackling and as half-time approached the home side added to their lead.
Barber, who took over the stand-off role in the absence of Damian Clayton, made a good break and found support on either side of him, giving the pass to Stead, who took it on before sending out the final pass to the ubiquitous Whitehead, who as always was on hand to finish the move. Stead missed his second conversion, but YM were good value for their 17-0 half-time lead.
From the re-start the visitors came out all guns blazing and YM were under severe pressure for lengthy periods, but again held firm and then pushed out of defence leaving Ilkley empty-handed for their efforts.
In response they began to batter Ilkley’s line through James Bell and Josh Lumb before Steve Dyke forced his way through the stretched defence, and as the cover tacklers closed in on him, he got his pass away to Adam Ryder, who smashed his way through the remnants of the defence to get YM’s fourth try.
In the closing stages, YM gave all the substitutes a run out, and the visitors took advantage of the unsettled side by grabbing late consolation tries from Iain McKenzie and Isaac Scholes to make the scoreline look a bit more respectable.
YMCA: Johnson, Bullock, Bentley, Ryder, Stead, Barber, Wilson; Ste Dyke, Hill, Wrafter, Stu Dyke, Bell, Dyson, Lumb, Whitehead. Interchanges: Hodge, Robinson, Tindall, Leone-Mazza.