Carlisle 26

Ilkley 23

ANOTHER teamsheet with a lot of new names presented itself to those Ilkley followers who made the 100-mile trip to Carlisle on Saturday.

Not so new was Paul Petchey, who was welcomed back to Ilkley colours as a loan player from Otley, along with teammate Owen Dudman, thus providing both wings.

J-H Johnson retained the No 8 berth and Ed Brown returned from cricketing duties. New boys Tom Stanley and Tom Dickinson started on the bench.

Carlisle had come into North Premier having gained promotion last season and their campaign started last week with a cracking away win at Morpeth, another promoted team.

Ilkley started well, catching their own kick-off and advancing upfield. Referee Mr Henry awarded an early penalty, well within kicking distance, but a quick one was taken and the resultant move ended when the ball was knocked forward.

The first scum was dealt with, but when it was re-set, the Carlisle forwards gave notice of their intentions to boss the set piece and the clearance kick reached half-way.

Ilkley countered well after winning the line and when Carlisle knocked on, Ilkley had their first scrum, which was lost.

Further set-piece trouble followed and the Ilkley defence was having a torrid few minutes, before Carlisle transgressed and Johnson was able to clear the visitors’ lines.

With Charles Ramsay directing his backline with confidence, a long floated pass reached full-back Callum Smithson, who made 30 metres before being brought down. Ilkley transgressed at the breakdown, but then fielded the resultant penalty and countered.

A penalty awarded to Ilkley was put into touch by Johnson well inside the opposition 22 and when yet another penalty was won, Ilkley opted for the points and after a full 20 minutes of very entertaining rugby, Ramsay slotted his first goal of the afternoon.

The electronic scoreboard sprang to life, as did the Carlisle pack who ground their way upfield and despite some ferocious tackling by the Ilkley defence, the pressure eventually told, when a decoy run in the backs opened a gap that was capitalised on by scrum-half James Telford, who darted in to score. His conversion gave his side a 7-0 lead.

Back came the Dalesmen, who were enjoying the rub of the green from the referee. Another Johnson penalty led to a line-out, but Ilkley lost it and Carlisle broke loose, courtesy of Telford.

Quick ruck ball and a miss-move allowed centre Dan Holmes to score, Telford again converting to make it 14-3.

With little time to go before half-time, two successive Johnson penalties took Ilkley to within five metres of the Carlisle line.

Carlisle offended again and Telford was yellow-carded, but Ilkley just couldn’t find a way through and Mr Henry signalled an end to proceedings.

Ilkley retreated to the changing rooms, some distance away, but whatever Rhys Morgan said certainly did the trick, as Ilkley were next to score.

A scrum was deemed to have been deliberately wheeled by Carlisle and Ramsay obliged with the boot.

The next score also went to Ilkley. A raking kick by Ramsay from defence found touch 20 metres out.

Carlisle cleared, but Ilkley won a clean line and a trademark run from Johnson broke several tackles before a beautifully weighted pass found captain Joe Lowes on his left shoulder.

Another five points and then another two from the flawless boot of Ramsay and Ilkley were just one point behind at 14-13.

Carlisle were clearly rattled and on the next attack, again conceded at the breakdown and the second yellow of the day went to stand-off Chris Auld.

Over went the kick and Ilkley were finally ahead by two points.

There was no further score for the next ten minutes, but with the home side back to full strength, a well-constructed move finished with centre Steve Benson going over in the corner, despite the attentions of Ilkley defenders. The conversion was missed, but Carlisle were back in the lead.

Carlisle's pack then took centre-stage now and after a maul was held up over the line, a five-metre scrum was awarded.

The ball was knocked forward and collected by the Ilkley defence, but Mr Henry adjudged that Ilkley had offended and Carlisle wisely opted for another scrum.

A penalty try was awarded as the Ilkley scrum was well beaten. Carlisle made it 26-16 and got a try bonus point to boot.

Ilkley got back in the game, fighting hard and a great run and try from Harry Harrison resulted, following more good work by Johnson. Over went the kick and it was now 26-23 with around ten minutes to go.

Both sides defended well, but it was Ilkley who came closest to scoring what would have been the winning try, but in the last move of the game, after several patient and well-controlled phases, the Ilkley attack lost sight of the ball at the breakdown just ten metres out.

The Carlisle defence was alert and with ball gratefully hoofed into touch, it was game over.

Plenty of positives from the game though : Ilkley are fit and look good with ball in hand and they never give up. More weight in the pack would be welcome, but as this young side develops, the points will come.

This Saturday sees the visit of Macclesfield to Stacks Field, a first fixture between the clubs and a chance to improve on the losing bonus point earned at Carlisle that took the Dalesmen two places up the league.