North Ribblesdale's run of wins against Ilkley comes to an end at Grove Park

Craven Herald: Pete Small scores Ilkley's second try Buy this photo » Pete Small scores Ilkley's second try

North Ribblesdale 0 Ilkley 17

North Ribblesdale will be boosted by the return of Simon Bolland, Sam Boatwright and Josh McFarlane as they try to arrest their recent dip in form at Old Brodleians on Saturday.

Their small squad has been stretched in recent weeks and that was evidenced as they slid to defeat against an Ilkley side they had beaten in their four previous encounters.

Boatwright and Chris Briggs were both forced to miss the match through illness while McFarlane only lasted five minutes before suffering a leg injury.

Ilkley, who arrived at Grove Park as the new league leaders, kicked off and retook possession.

They spent the next ten minutes in the Ribb half where the tenacious home defence held firm.

Despite all their possession Ilkley lacked penetration, but Ribb didn’t help their own cause by repeatedly kicking hard-won possession back to their opponents.

They clearly need come coaching in this aspect of their play. Ilkley eventually ground their way into the home 22 and kept the ball for fully five minutes before second row Pete Small stretched over from short range for a try.

Despite an abundance of possession, Ilkley were finding it hard to make headway.

The defence was excellent in mid field and Angus Carr made a number of critical tackles.

The next score came after Ribb, again in their own 22, opted to run their way out of trouble. A pass was dropped and Ilkley centre Steve Nolson accepted the gift to run under the posts for a try. Tom Collard’s conversion made it 12-0. Ribb’s second half was better but the woeful kicking continued. Alex Naylor made a magnificent 40-metre break which could have led to a score. The move came to a halt when a weak chip kick gave away possession. Taking the tackle would have given Ribb the chance to continue their momentum. The lack of confidence was evident when another break out of defence was wasted with an ill-judged kick.

Ribb’s pack was in the ascendancy with the pick and drive and the driving maul proving effective.

Far too much ball was kicked away, but they did force two penalties.

From an attacking line-out Johnny Moore broke through and was hauled down within five metres of the line.

In the last quarter Ilkley started to win a bit of ball, they were penalised for a double movement over the line but came back and replacement Matt Lovett scored an unconverted try wide out to finish the scoring.

Ribb have not become a bad side but they need to turn their results around. The pack was dominant for most of the game and the defence, as ever, was immaculate.

The tactics continue to be puzzling. They do not use their pack anything like enough.

Ribb are winning their set piece ball and getting a good share from the loose, and they would do well to use this platform to utilise their strength in the centres.

They could use the crash ball more effectively which would give their big forwards the chance to make their presence felt once the centres have tested the defence.

Simplicity may well be the key to unlock their current problems.

The delicate kicks and complex backs moves are clearly not working.

What is not in doubt is the team’s unity. They have had a hard few weeks with injuries and while some of the tactics have been puzzling their spirit has not buckled.

It would have been very easy for a team with less backbone to have conceded a lot of points to Ilkley.

Ribb seconds beat Yorkshire Division Five leaders Wensleydale 36-5. Half backs Peter Cook and Michael Thwaite ran the game while James Bolland was man of the match.

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