Aire/Wharfe Cup Semi Final
A warm spring evening and a healthy crowd which must have been pushing 200 welcomed both teams for the next instalment of Aire Wharfe cup action. The visitors knew that they would have to up their game from last week’s performance against Bradford Salem if they were to stand any chance of progressing.
Ilkley were first to trouble the scorers after their right winger showed good pace and determination by beating several Wharfedale defenders to score a try. The conversion was missed but the hosts were 5-0 up. Some loose play by Wharfedale then gifted Ilkley another opportunity which they duly took, this time with a successful conversion to extend the lead to 12-0.
Wharfedale then managed to find their feet and compose themselves to get back into the contest. Several hard yards, mainly by the forward pack who were outstanding all evening, gained a penalty in kickable range. The opportunity for 3 points was turned down and the ball was kicked into the corner. Ilkley then gave another penalty away at the driven line out. Once again the ball was put into the corner, this time Jack Kitching claiming the score after a well-executed driven maul. Catley was off target with the conversion. Score 12-5.
Ilkley backs then made use of some indifferent defending by the men in green and found space to cross for their third try which was converted and their lead extended to 19-5.
Wharfedale responded by getting the ball back into their forwards who were thriving in their contest with the Ilkley pack. An Ilkley error at a defensive lineout in their 22 was pounced on by substitute flanker Sam Smith and taken within touching distance of the home try line. David Wade, following up in close support, then having the strength to crash over. 19-10.
As the half came to a close and the pack becoming increasingly dominant, Wharfedale launched another attack and made deep in-roads into the Ilkley defence. Eventually number 8 Tom Wareing powered over the line. Catley added the extras and took the score to 19-17.
The half time break may have benefited the hosts more as Wharfedale were playing the better of the rugby as the first half drew to a close. They were first to score in the second half of this nip and tuck encounter with another try out wide . Again it was converted to extend their slender lead to 26-17.
The visitors then really got into their stride and were making deeper and deeper inroads into the tiring home defence. A penalty was again confidently put into the corner and the driven maul setup, as it slowed, scrum half Will Lawn whipped the ball out to midfield where replacement centre Olly Pursglove hit a determined angled run to crash over near the posts. Catley added the extras and we were back to a 2 point game. 26-24.
From the restart, Wharfedale went straight back on the attack. Good yards by the forwards and Scott Rogers on the wing took play deep into Ilkley’s 22. The ball was fed wide but unfortunately a cross field kick was intercepted by the Ilkley winger who had the pace to go the length, touching down under the posts for an easy conversion. 33-24.
Ilkley then extended their lead following a breakdown penalty infringement and subsequent yellow card to second row Morgan Davies. The 3 pointer taking the score to 36-24. But this contest was not over yet. Back came the visitors and back into Ilkley’s 22. They were deemed held up just over the line but from the resulting scrum, which had been creaking now down to 7 men, held firm and allowed scrum half Lawn to dart over to reduce the deficit to 36-29.
From the restart, Wharfedale now aware that the clock was ticking went straight back on the offensive from deep within their own half, but unfortunately a penalty was conceded at the ruck. Ilkley took the three point opportunity and then the referee blew for full time.
Final Score Ilkley 2’s 39, Wharfedale 3’s 29.
Gutted, but hugely proud of a group of lads that gave absolutely everything and could have beaten a side that compete in the same league as our Foresters. It has been a fantastic season and it is never great to finish on a loss but to be league champions and then entertain crowds of 150+ on night matches for a third team is outstanding.
1. Matty Close
2. Ian Close
3. Joe Jackson
4. James Ardron
5. Morgan Davies
6. Jack Kitching
7. David Wade
8. Tom Wareing
9. Will Lawn
10. Marcus Farnworth
11. Sam Smith (snr)
12. Mark Simpson
13. Scott Rogers
14. Harris Catley
15. Sam Mason
16. Tom Carlisle
17. Thomas Walker
18. Dan Benson
19. Sam Smith (jnr)
20. Olly Pursglove
Tries: Kitching, Wade, Wareing, Pursglove, Lawn
Cons: Catley (2)