ILKLEY lost 24-17 to Harrogate in a hard-fought North Premier game at Stack’s Field.

Despite wet conditions, the visitors showed good early distribution, with some dangerous opening attacks.

A sharp scissor-move allowed centre Luke Riddle to go over in the corner in the fifth minute, with Harrogate leading 5-0 after the missed conversion.

Keen to maintain order, the referee produced the first of three yellow cards in the eighth minute, judging a tackle from Ilkley flanker Joe Lowes to be too high.

Harrogate pressed their extra man advantage with a pushover try for No 8 Jonny Coser, converted by Cail Cookland leaving the home side 12-0 down after 11 minutes.

But Ilkley showed great determination to stay in the game, wing JH Johnson producing a 40-metre run from the restart. Quick passing sent over impressive returning full back Pat Atkinson to touch down, the missed conversion leaving the score 12-5.

Twenty minutes of power play followed, with Harrogate giving away penalties under pressure from the Ilkley forwards, who showed good aggression and ball retention.

There was good line kicking from Ramsey, but Ilkley failed to capitalise on their superior territory through several poor lineouts.

Coser exploited this weakness in the 34th minute, with Cookland’s poor conversion attempt leaving the score 17-5.

Harrogate struggled from the restart, Coser receiving a yellow for not retreating ten metres in the 45th minute.

A long kick from Atkinson and powerful running from forwards Harry Wales and Max McKay culminated in a driving Ilkley maul.

The quick-tapped penalty from scrum-half Blake Morgan sent Struan Connor in on the blindside, Ramsey’s pin-point conversion making it 17-12 after 50 minutes.

A high tackle from lock Sam Brady and the subsequent yellow meant Harrogate were again reduced to 14 men after 56 minutes.

Spurred on, the Ilkley pack produced a powerful maul, driving Blake Morgan over to level the scores at 17-17 but the conversion was wide again.

Harrogate produced a sustained period of pressure in Ilkley territory, driving the home pack over with a powerful scrummage, Coser completing his hat-trick.

Cookland’s conversion made it 24-17 on 67 minutes, and Harrogate held on.

Ilkley coach Rhys Morgan said: “It was a good game to watch, but we lost too many line-outs.

“I’m proud of the boys for fighting back after conceding two early tries.”

Harrogate coach David Docherty said: “There were two good sides out there today, with a lot of rugby played at a high level in difficult conditions.

“I’m happy with the five points and hopefully this can kick-start our season.”