Ilkley 8-32 Alnwick RFC
Four years and two days had elapsed since Alnwick last visited Ilkley and lost a closely fought match 31-20.
Ilkley gained promotion that season so there was much interest in the present fixture on Saturday to see how both sides had developed in the intervening years.
As on the previous visit, Yorkshire provided a glorious autumn day with the pitch and conditions once again just about perfect for open rugby.
This suited Alnwick who seized the initiative almost from the off and apart from one or two inconsequential lapses, held the upper hand throughout.
Alnwick dominated all aspects of the forward play which, coupled with high quality back play, resulted in a score-line which somewhat understated their superiority.
Ilkely in contrast were a mite disappointing, showing little enterprise or creativity in the face of relentless Alnwick pressure which severely limited their options.
They had their fair share of possession and recycled energetically but being on the defensive for long periods their attempts to run the ball were largely futile.
Equally unsuccessful was their other preferred option of driving close to the scrum, ruck and maul which foundered on Alnwick’s uncompromising tackling.
Alnwick kicked off with the light breeze and bright sun marginally favouring Ilkley but there was barely time for the opening exchanges before Ilkley were penalised on their 10 metre line for holding on at the tackle, Callum Burn kicking the goal for 0-3 in under two minutes.
From the re-start, Ilkley made headway up to Alnwick’s 22, but could not establish an attacking position even with the help of three penalties and were pushed back into their own half.
Alnwick now began to mount sustained pressure releasing winger Hutchinson on a strong run before being injured as he was tackled into touch and substituted by Jake Woods.
Alnwick maintained the momentum and moved the ball slickly to vary the point of attack until, with 17 minutes gone, centre Cuthbert found space to score on the left for 0-8, with C Burn missing the tricky conversion.
Neither the re-start nor two penalties greatly benefitted Ilkley.
Alnwick’ s excellent tackling and support play brought a second try on 27 minutes as substitute Woods gathered the rebound from an attempted clearance and sprinted over to score with Burn adding the extras for 0-15.
Good linking between centre Mallaburn and Jonny Burn and a rampaging run by Hamilton put Alnwick on the front foot and pressure from loose play after a 5m scrum put prop Bachurzewski through on the right for 0-20.
The ball fell over as Burn prepared to kick and the dubious legality of the charge was allowed and Burn then missed with a hurried effort.
The half ended with a rare Ilkley visit to the Alnwick 22 but no further score.
A re-energised Ilkley began the second period by gaining two penalties in quick succession full-back Ramsey kicking the second for 3-20.
Alnwick rather lost focus at this point but applied forward pressure to create a ruck short of the line where scrum-half Ord found a gap to squeeze over. Burn converted for 3-27.
With 15 minutes gone Alnwick added another try from some dynamic forward drives which finally saw prop Bachurzewski batter his way over for his second try to make it 3-32 with the conversion missed.
To Ilkley’s credit they never gave up and after managing a period of pressure on Alnwick finally scrambled an untidy try by Erskine for 8-32 , Ramsey missing the conversion.
Ilkley finished with a determined sprint from deep but an excellent covering tackle from Moralee put his man into touch to bring proceedings to an end.
Alnwick: P.Moralee, S.Hutchinson, R.Cuthbert, R.Mallaburn, J.Burn, C.Burn, S.Ord, C.Phillips, D.Smith, C.Bachurzewski, M.Gray, J.Young, B.Courty, J.Hamilton, B.Gothorp. Subs: H.Burn, D.Clayton, J.Woods.
Next match: Saturday, October 27 v Hull (Away). Kick off: 3pm.