‘Gate sink Ilkley to take derby day honours

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In the first meeting of the sides since 1965, Harrogate RUFC won Saturday’s derby showdown with Ilkley by a 24-6 scoreline.

Dave Doherty’s men took a narrow 7-6 lead into the interval, but three unanswered second-half tries saw the visitors pull clear, securing themselves a bonus point in the process.

Both teams tested each other’s defences during the opening exchanges until ‘Gate went offside in defence and Charles Morgan’s kick put Ilkley 3-0 up.

The home pack had difficulty in containing the Aces’ driving mauls and, in the 17th minute, home flanker Will Coates went offside once too often and was yellow carded.

The penalty led to an attacking line-out and ‘Gate launched another driving maul, from which lock Sam Brady grabbed a try that was converted by Luke Riddell.

An excellent long re-start kick from Ilkley’s Morgan then led to a five-metre line-out.

Harrogate secured possession but an attempted clearance was charged down, more Ilkley attacks followed, the away defence went offside and Morgan’s kick trimmed the gap at 7-6.

The visiting pack was largely in control as the game approached its halfway point and although backs Andrew Lawson, Harry Barnard and Oli Rosillo threatened in attack, two promising moves were halted because of injuries to Ilkley players.

The ‘Gate pressure continued for the rest of the first period and desperate Ilkley defence led to a second yellow card offence, but there were no further points scored before the break.

Wayward throwing-in led to Ilkley struggling to gain line-out possession in the second half.

However, with the introduction of uncontested scrums due to injuries suffered by front row personnel, guaranteed ball from their own put-in saw the hosts actually opt for scrums from penalties rather than risk losing possession from an attacking line-out.

Ilkley were unable to get themselves on the scoreboard, however, and continued pressure from the away forwards led to a second Brady touchdown and another from Guy Coser, the game’s outstanding flanker.

An otherwise forgettable encounter was then set alight by a dazzling injury time try, one that earned ‘Gate a bonus point.

Lawson’s initial break from defence was well supported and the ball passed through several sets of hands before scrum-half Danny Matthews delivered the coup de grace.

Victory for Doherty’s men moves them up to fourth position in the National Three North standings ahead of a crucial trip to second-placed Lymm this Saturday.