Selby 0 Ilkley 0

Yes the scoreline is right but while 0-0 draws are rare, this one had plenty to commend it.

The 36 players and the excellent referee Mr Wolstenholme should be commended for the way they coped with the horrendous conditions.

Rain, hail and a sleet storm of biblical proportions produced conditions which were alien to flowing rugby.

But this eagerly anticipated match was anything but drab.It tuned out to be an absorbing encounter and a titanic struggle despite conditions which made handling so difficult.

Too often the ball squirted out of hand and skidded off the edge of boots that were stuck in the cloying mud.

Continuity of play was definitely at a premium.

Ilkley, who were without Iain McKenzie and Ryan Cooper, looked marginally the better side.

Their rapacious defence was only under pressure on a couple of occasions.

Both times Selby fell victim to their exhuberance and had penalties awarded against them.

Resurgent Selby were confident of getting a first-ever league victory against the Dalesmen but their strike force of Josh Cruise and Dan Porter was nullified by the appalling weather.

The penalty count at least helped the Dalesmen’s cause.

For once the balance of penalties conceded tipped in their favour and, in fact, gave the visitors the two best chances of a putting scores on the board.

There were just two kicks at goal, one in each half, both on the Selby 22 and both just a small angle from straight .

The second, 15 minutes from time agonisingly hit an upright and rebounded into play.

Josh Kimber should take no blame for this unfamiliar inaccuracy.

The pitch and the mud played its dastardly part to frustrate the Ilkley support huddled up against the cold and the wind in Selby’s packed grandstand.

Ilkley dominated the line-out where Pete Small was imperious at the front and big Steve Burns reliable as ever in this department.

The Ilkley rumble almost got over the line in the second half only to be ruled held up.

It was once again a constant threat to the opposition.

They also had marginally the upper hand in the scrums where the battering ram tactics of John Cooksey, Tom Baxter and Steve Graham disrupted several Selby put ins and all three were heavily involved in the loose.

The back row too had a major part to play.

Stuart Brewer, Ollie Renton and Gus Ramsay, then Charley Davy were driving play forward and tackling like voracious tigers.

Brewer thought he had scored once only to be judged stopped on the obscured line.

Outside the scrum Tom Collard’s kicking was, for the most part effective and valuable in relieving much of the Selby pressure.

Those kicks that fell victim to the horribly gusting wind and went straight out were unfortun-ate but understandable.

Kimber and his back line, like Selby’s, never really got going, the wet ball making passing to the man and catching something of an achievement.

Nonetheless a disciplined defensive effort and two near scores down the left where JH Johnson looked at his dangerous best were more than the home side achieved.

Paul Petchey had to use all his speed to frustrate one good Selby break.

Steve Nolson and fellow centre Alistair Monks probed but could not find a gap in the Selby defence.

Skipper Stuart Vincent had a difficult day at full back.

All his vast experience was required to clear up nasty unpredictable high balls and when he was on his own with a hoard of mud covered Selby warriors descending down on him.

He was resolute throughout.

So, nil nil it was.

It spoke little for the unrewarded effort of the Dalesmen who have to be satisfied with just the two points because of an inch or two of post.

The results means that Dinnington and Doncaster Phoenix have joined Ilkley on 39 points.

Dinnington lead the way from the Dalesmen on points difference.