Ilkley 2nds 25 Wharfedale Foresters 27

FORESTERS defeated their closest challengers to secure the Yorkshire Merit Premiership title in an error-strewn encounter at Stacks Field.

They played like a side who had experienced a long and difficult season but they did enough to keep a firm hold on the championship.

The only players to come out of this victory with some credit were the Greens forwards who once again showed their prowess against a heavier pack and at no stage of this game did they appear under any pressure.

The backs were not at the races. Their ball retention was poor and they fell off tackles far too easily.

Full back Ben Parkinson was an exception with some strong runs while the half back combination was Rory McNabb and fly half Andy Rhodes tried to motivate the three-quarter line.

The Greens set off full of vim and vitality and after a brilliant scrum drive up popped Jake Parkinson who else, to go over for the first try. Andy Rhodes, who had a difficult kicking day, missed the conversion.

The lead was extended when a lovely cross field kick by Simpson was gobbled up by Ollie Whyte.

Despite having a 10-0 lead, the Foresters were sloppy and their ambitious attempts to off-load in the tackle led to a string of errors.

Winger Luke Freer opened Ilkley's account with a try before a lucky bounce in midfield saw Jake Parkinson take advantage to score his second try.

Weak tackling enabled Ilkley to come back again with Chris McKenna going over for a try.

The home side were lifted by the score and another series of mistakes allowed Freer to score his second try and level the scores.

Ilkley stand-off Charlie Ramsey landed the only successful kick of the first half when he popped a penalty over that was awarded for a foul tackle.

It gave the home side an 18-15 lead and the Foresters knew there was work to be done after the break.

The strong words of coach John Metcalfe clearly had an impact. Another good drive by the Wharfedale pack allowed Rhodes to dive in at the corner and his conversion attempt unluckily hit the post.

Soon after the same player showed fine opportunism by finding gaps in the Ilkley defence to score a lovely try under the posts . He converted and the Greens were sailing at 27-18.

The drama was far from finished. Prop Matt Close was yellow carded and Ilkley missed a kickable penalty.

The reprieve was temporary. Jack De'Ath went over for a try which Ramsey converted.

Foresters managed to retain their slender lead to the finish of a game which, despite the mistakes, was compelling right up to the final whistle.