Ilkley 8 Hull 23

HULL’S forward dominance in the second half overpowered a lively Ilkley on Saturday, who did not deserve their eventual 23-8 defeat.

In blustery conditions at Stack’s Field, Ilkley used their wind advantage to good effect. Long kicking from J. H. Johnson gave Ilkley the territory to gain a simple penalty on 15 minutes to take a 3-0 lead over the league leaders.

Some excellent defence from Ilkley culminated in a ferocious run by Max McKay, bringing Ilkley to within five metres of the Hull line, but the hosts were kept out by good defensive work from lock Cameron Curry.

Ilkley’s forwards equalled Hull's during the first half, despite the East Yorkshire team having the reputation of being the best pack in the division.

Nevertheless, a careless error in the 23rd minute allowed winger Stephen Hihetah in for a try as the Ilkley defensive line went to sleep.

The missed conversion brought the score to 5-3, and Ilkley showed great determination to come back into the game, with some excellent work by scrum half Blake Morgan around the fringes and incisive runs by J. H. Johnson.

Hull’s forwards had a few rumbling mauls, with centre Alexander Heard crucially tackled by Blake Morgan to prevent a try, but the defence held firm, with no further score before half time.

A quick combination of passes two minutes after the re-start made an opening for a blistering fifty-metre run by flanker Joe Lowes, who scored in the corner.

The missed conversion made the score 8-5, but Ilkley began to lose control of the game, and Hull’s forward dominance became evident.

Simon Humberston brought the visitors level with a penalty and then, after a powerful forward drive, Hihetah beat Will Howarth for pace to score his second try on 54 minutes, making it 15-8.

Humberston kicked a penalty, and though Ilkley’s defence stood firm, a third try seemed inevitable and the impressive Hihetah completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute to put an end to Ilkley’s hopes.

Ilkley chairman Mike Halling was disappointed with the referee's performance, citing “blatant” foul play from some of the Hull players, but coach Rhys Morgan was proud of his team’s performance.

He said: “The lads showed some true grit – we deserved to get more out of it.”

His opposite number, ex-Lion Gary Pearce said: “We had greater territory in the second half - I knew they had a weaker pack than ours and we exploited this.”