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Ilkley are full of flair as derby rivals are put to the sword
Ilkley 78, Otley Saracens 14
After a satisfactory display against Old Grovians on Tuesday of last week, Ilkley stepped up a gear in their pre-season warm-up matches by facing old rivals Otley at Stacks Field.
With Otley taking a large squad to Wharfedale for their first XV warm-up, the Saracens were depleted to the extent that they borrowed some Ilkley players.
The four 20-minute quarters saw a full rotation of players and the large crowd were treated to some great tries – 12 from Ilkley and two from Otley, which augers well for Ilkley’ new season, which starts in earnest on Saturday with a visit to Knottingley in the first round of the Yorkshire Shield.
While there were several players missing, on holiday or cricketing, Ilkley’s backs looked particularly sharp, with tries coming from skipper Stuart Vincent (2), Elliot Morgan (2), Alastair Monks and Paul Petchey.
The forthcoming returns of J-H Johnson, Ryan Cooper and Craig Barker will cause some selection problems.
With player-coach Steve Graham influential throughout, Ilkley’s forwards were always well on top.
Iain Mackenzie, Jon Hutchinson and the returning Stuart Brewer started the scoring with tries in the first quarter.
Locks Pete Small and the new, slimline Steve Burns also crossed, and even referee Ollie Mantle chipped in with a penalty-try award when he finally lost patience with Otley’s spoiling tactics.
Scrum half Tom Collard contributed nine conversions.
However, Otley never gave up and were rewarded with two scintillating tries from full back Nazir Karim, both from broken play and both involving 50-metre sprints to the goal-line.
Centre Ben Collins slotted both conversions, giving an air of respectability to the scoreline, which finished 78-14 to Ilkley.
SSE Yorkshire Division One promises to be even tougher than usual this season, with the return of both Selby and Keighley, plus dark horses Doncaster Phoenix, Ilkley’s first league opponents on September 7.
However, if Ilkley can succeed in playing with the same sort of flair as was on display in this game, another good season is in prospect and who knows, maybe a top-two finish?
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