Ilkley 32 North Ribblesdale 12

Battling North Ribblesdale were outscored five tries to two by their title-chasing rivals and that statistic told its own story.

Ribb’s basic problems are tactical and strategic. They have a habit of carrying on doing the same thing when it is patently not working, rather than adopting another strategy.

It was always going to be hard playing against a side who had a stone a man advantage in the forwards so it didn’t help Ribb’s’ cause when they kept rumbling every loose ball round the corner and trundling into the big opposition pack.

With Simon Bolland skinning his opposite number whenever he had the ball and Ryan Gill proving very elusive Ribb, should have moved every ball wide and taken a risk with the game.

This is not the fault of their young half backs, it is down to the senior players to provide the leadership and direction.

Ribb should have made so much more of the running of centre Johnny Moore. He is dangerous in open play and despite receiving a turgid supply of possession, he was hard to stop. In an open field he would have made more breaks. Too much of Ribb’s play was predictable.

The pack held its own in the scrums and a quick back row did a lot of good work, but too often the forwards rumbled into the massive arms of Steve Burns and co which resulted in good possession being nullified.

When Ribb did play off the cuff David Fox made a 40-yard break and both Bolland and Gill looked dangerous.

Ribb were not helped by injuries to Fox and the sin binning of Willie Garth, although to be fair Ilkley lost the impressive Burns and prop Tom Baxter to the sin bin. Ilkley played much of the opening 20 minutes in the Ribb 22 but were comfortably kept at bay. Ribb were untroubled and there was no hint of danger when a turnover by Nathan Dakin and John Paddley won Ribb a scrum.

Unfortunately, a weak defensive kick was charged down and stand-off Tom Collard scored and converted to give Ilkley a 7-0 lead.

Ribb were stung by the setback and were unlucky not to score minutes later when Matt Speres was just unable to reach his kick ahead before it went over the dead-ball line.

Ilkley looked rattled when their 22 drop out saw Fox make a startling break. The home side managed to isolate the full back and he kicked ahead when he was unable to find Bolland The Dalesmen went further ahead when Pete Small finished an impressive passage of play after scrum half Ryan Cooper’s break had started the sweeping move.

At 12-0 up, Ilkley found themselves a man short as Burns received a yellow card for barging with five minutes of the half remaining.

Ribb took full advantage of this numerical superiority and when Ilkley infringed under their own posts after a jinking run by Gill, Ribb opted for a scrum. From this, Speres crashed over leaving Jonathan Richards a simple conversion to get his side back in the game at 12-7.

Ilkley finished the half with 13 men when Baxter handled in a ruck and was correctly carded.

Ribbwere unable to capitalise on their numerical superiority this time and just how costly that proved to be was demonstrated when Brewer and Burns returned shortly before Garth was yellow carded.

First Brewer and then Burns scored tries from driven line-outs following penalties. In five minutes the score went from 12-7 to 24-7 and the game was now over as a contest. Bolland and Gill still provided the odd flash of excitement and it was a surge from Bolland that led to Speres scoring his second try.

Ilkley came back with a try and a penalty from Collard and go to Doncaster Phoenix on Saturday with a good chance of winning the league.

Ribb’s final game of a testing season is at home to Selby on Saturday.