By Mark Hodgkiss
Two late tries made the gap between the teams look bigger than it really was
For a second season Kendal started their league campaign in perfect conditions for rugby at Ilkley, and came out second best in a game they could have won.
Also for a second season Kendal made poor start. The Ilkley kick off was gathered and run back, but was immediately turned over to put Ilkley on the attack. Whilst the defence held out, Kendal were then penalised for not releasing the ball in the tackle, but had a let off when the penalty failed to find the target.
A Kendal error again kept them in defence, when the restart kick went straight into touch, to give Ilkley an attacking scrum.
Chris Downham managed to steal Ilkley ball, only for Kendal to concede a penalty, which set up a good run through the middle by a Ilkley forward, who was finally brought down close to the line, and when the ball was recycled it was knocked on.
Ilkley finally opened the scoring after ten minutes. A scrum near the Kendal line, saw poor ball, but the scrum half used this to his advantage to wrong foot the Kendal defence, and whilst he was stopped another poor pass was well gathered to allow Ilkley to go over for the opening try. 7v0 with the conversion from outside half Charles Morgan.
The restart kick was chased, and Kendal were unfortunate that the ball was knock on as it was gathered. They stayed in attack, Dini Noyo playing at fullback broke through and the referee penalised Ilkley for an illegal tackle which stopped his progress. Glen Weightman put the long range penalty over. 7v3
Kendal were having the better of play, with the scrum and lineout both working well, with John Dervey often managing to disrupt Ilkley ball. Matthew Charters burst through the centre, but when he looked to pass, there was no one in support and the move ended.
Kendal took the lead shortly before the half hour. After good build up work in the twenty-two, when the ball came back Glen Weightman spotted a gap on the left, and passed to flanker Steven Nelson who had a clear run to the line. Glen Weightman then added the conversion. 7v10.
Ilkely re-took the lead five minutes later. A long kick upfield was knocked on by a Kendal player, and from the resulting scrum, right wing Tom Milner joined the attack in the centre, to go over for the try which Charles Morgan converted 14v10.
Both teams had chances to score again before half time, but handling errors meant opportunities were lost.
Kendal started the second half well and had a long spell in attack, but the Ilkley defence was up very quickly to cut off passes, and make solid tackles to prevent scores.
After ten minutes Ilkley were reduced to fourteen men when outside half Charles Morgan was yellow carded for dissent. From the resulting penalty Kendal chose to take a scrum, only to be penalised, to allow Ilkley to clear the initial danger and run the clock down.
Kendal finally made a break through after a quarter of an hour. From a scrum the ball was moved to the right, where Nick Carlton, playing on the wing, went over for a try to give Kendal a slender lead 14v15.
Kendal made their first change with Garry Holmes coming off to be replaced by Robbie Collinson.
Ilkley re-took the lead with another planned moved from a set piece. From a lineout the ball was moved into midfield, where fullback Charles Ramsey broke through to score under the posts with Charles Morgan adding the conversion. 21v15.
With five minutes to play Liam Ridley came on for Matthew Charters.
Kendal were finishing the game more strongly, but were still unable to break the solid Ilkley defence and when a poor pass saw the ball go loose, Ilkley put a long kick to the Kendal line, and there was little option than to put the ball dead to concede a lineout. The Ilkley pack took the ball and drove to the line to score to open up a two score lead going into injury time, with an excellent conversion from near the touchline 28v15.
Kendal’s cause was not helped when Alistair Thompson, who had just come on, took out a player jumping for the re-start kick, and was yellow carded and may have been luck not to have faced more severe action.
Ilkley took play deep into the Kendal half, and looking for a score to gain a losing bonus point, Kendal tried to run the ball out from their own line, but when the ball was lost, it was Ikley who added a further try, with the conversion attempt hitting the post, with the final action of the game. 33v15.
It was the sort of game where whichever team lost would regret missed opportunities, and despite a promising Kendal performance, Ilkley just had a little more in attack and defence to get their season off to a winning start.
Like the Sandbach game, there was plenty that could be learnt from the opposition’s play, with better back up play allowing options, that the Kendal ball carriers rarely had.
KENDAL MAN OF THE MATCH : John Dervey
Votes spread evenly between seven players (assuming you include the two comedians who wasted their vote on a player who was only on the field for a very short period), but John was a vote ahead of the rest, contributing to the much improved lineout performance.