Harrogate vs Ilkley
By Peter Kitching
After an even first quarter, Harrogate’s superior forward power was the key to them taking control and they were never seriously threatened thereafter.
One of the coaching team explained to me that the really important factor was the way that Kevin Shattock kept the players hydrated throughout the match. My informant’s initials are KS
From Ilkley’s kick-off, an athletic Martin Dodds “high take” launched a flowing Harrogate attack but the move ended with a knock-on. Ilkley No8, Max McKay skilfully picked up at the base of a retreating scrum to launch a counter attack but a long David Doherty line kick took play back into Ilkley’s half. From a Harrogate line-out steal, Doherty’s break set up another attack which was illegally stopped by Ilkley and winger, Blake Morgan celebrated his 20th birthday with a visit to the sin bin. Harrogate opted for an attacking scrum, the pack drove strongly and scrum half, Phil Wickham tucked in behind to score a try converted by Nathan Wyman.
Ilkley then won possession from a Harrogate knock-on and a well constructed attack led to winger John-Henry Johnson scoring in the corner. The next score came from Harrogate’s defence going offside and Charles Ramsay’s penalty kick put Ilkley 7-8 ahead. His kick had to be delayed while Dodds was treated for a head injury which led to him leaving the field and being replaced by Jonny Coser.
Harrogate’s pack became increasingly dominant with the front row of Charley Purkiss-McEndoo, Steve Maycock and Connor Ward in complete control. The Ilkley pack was driven off its own ball and a quick pass put winger Andrew Lawson into space but he was tackled into touch. Ilkley’s line-out ball was then stolen by Maycock to launch another attack from which Coser scored a converted try to restore Harrogate’s lead.
More Harrogate attacks followed from a Sam Brady line-out steal from which his second row partner, Andy Boyde powered through Ilkley’s defence. Harrogate’s predatory back row of Coser, James Millington and Hugo Tasker was a highly effective unit. Good line-out ball was quickly spread wide and Doherty came into the line to deliver an inch perfect scoring pass to Lawson. Wyman’s touchline conversion made the half time score 21-8.
The second half opened with waves of Harrogate attacks in which Boyde, Brady, Lawson , Wyman, Danny Matthews and Luke Edwards were prominent. A driving maul was set up and Purkiss-McEndoo crashed over for a converted try. Ilkley continued to compete and quick scrum ball was recycled to dynamic full-back Struan Connor who sprinted through for a converted try to make the score 28-15. A succession of Harrogate driving mauls led to the next score. Lawson outpaced the defence to score and another Wyman touchline conversion made it 35-15. Ilkely continued to try to compete but Harrogate’s defence contained their elusive running skills. A Harry Barnard defensive interception launched a Harrogate counter attack to put the Ilkley defence under still more pressure. Another superbly judged Doherty pass put Barnard clear to score and make it 40-15.
Both teams were playing ambitious attacking rugby at every opportunity but illegal Ilkley holding halted a Harrogate attack and their captain, Elliott Morgan took the seat in the sin bin which his brother had kept warm for him. More skilful Ilkley back play created space for the impressive Connor to burst through and score his second try.
Harrogate turnover ball was quickly spread and Lawson supported an Edwards break to score his hat trick converted try. Ilkley competed to the end and won a succession of attacking penalties from which scrum half, Andrew Dixon scored a converted try to earn them a well deserved bonus point
Harrogate: Doherty, Barnard, Wyman, Edwards, Lawson, Matthews, Wickham, Purkiss-McEndoo, Maycock, Ward, Brady, Boyde, Millington, Dodds, Tasker. Subs:- Yorke, Coser, Cookland
Ilkley: Connor, Johnson, E Morgan, Palacio, B Morgan, Ramsay, Dixon, Lawrence, Wales, Nicholls, Pearson, Erskine, Power, Lowes, McKay. Subs:- Clarke, Kassapian, Bolland
Referee: Ricky Handa (Northern Federation)
Match report by Bill Barrack