No room for complacency in Yorkshire Shield final - Ilkley coach Rhys Morgan

Wharfedale Observer: Ilkley's second team, who have not only their league championship but promotion via a play-off Ilkley's second team, who have not only their league championship but promotion via a play-off

Champions Ilkley may have won 16 and drawn two of their previous 18 matches in SSE Yorkshire Division One.

But there is little chance of head coach Rhys Morgan becoming complacent ahead of their Yorkshire Shield final against Scarborough on Saturday at York RUFC (3.00).

“Just because we haven’t lost since October 19 (a 17-13 reverse at Old Brodleians) does not mean that we have a God-given right to win the Shield final on Saturday,” said Morgan.

“We only won 13-6 at Scarborough in January and they drew 17-17 at our place in October.

“They will certainly be wanting to end their season on a high and they will not be lying down for us.

“North Ribblesdale may have found things easier against them but Scarborough are one of the toughest teams that we have faced and will prove a big hurdle.”

One motivating factor for the Dalesmen is that of skipper Stuart Vincent.

“He lost in his last Shield final and the lads will want to win it for him, and the same goes for Iain McKenzie,” said Morgan.

It has not only been a fruitful season for the first team at Stack’s Field, however.

Ilkley’s second team have followed up their Yorkshire Merit Table Central Division Championship victory of two weekends ago by winning a promotion play-off at home to Scunthorpe last Saturday.

“We scored five tries to their two but only just won it at the end,” said Morgan, “but we deserved to win it, and it is all making for an exciting end to the season.

"The second team includes some good youngsters, such as Ed Brownlee (younger brother of triathletes Alistair and Jonny) – it is nice for him to have a bit of limelight for himself! – Will Coates, Tim Ahmed, John Pickersgill and my lads, Charlie and Elliott Morgan.

“John Oakes (former Ilkley prop who is now at Old Grovians) has done well in terms of recruitment from Bradford Grammar School, and al-though it will be a big ask next season for our second team to go up into the Yorkshire Premiership, we have some form against teams in that division.

“We have played Otley Saracens three times and been pipped three times, although on the last occasion we should have won, and we have also run Harrogate’s second team close.”

The seriousness of the end of season for both the first team and the second team at Stack’s Field means that Morgan and rugby chairman Tom Gillon have had little chance to cast their minds forward to next season in SSE North One East and the Yorkshire Premiership.

But Morgan said: “The first thing to do is to talk to the lads who are here now and make sure they are going to stay because you don’t want to make 20 changes to the squad.

“You want to keep those that you have got and maybe add three or four players – but they have also got to be right for the club as well and not, for example, be a disruptive influence.”

Also hanging in the background is the prospect of yet another change to the league system, which would mean divisions being cut down to 12 teams and the balance being made up a new cup competition.

“I am not sure exactly sure how it is going to work,” confessed Morgan, “but it should mean that league matches are more local and that you are guaranteed at least three cup matches as you will be playing in small groups.

“I am certainly in favour of the changes and clubs won’t lose revenue because of the extra games.”

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