ILKLEY produced a solid Saturday performance to defeat Sandal 22-5 on a bitterly cold afternoon at Stacks Field.

Many games in the area were called off, but in spite of difficult conditions, with freezing rain and minus temperatures, this was an excellent contest.

The home side began well, with good phases and ball retention presenting a try to Pat Power in only the second minute, his seventh of the season. That was well-converted by Charles Ramsey to make it 7-0.

The sin-binning of Max McKay in the 9th minute did nothing to prevent the home side’s progress.

Sandal spilled several passes early on as a result of Ilkley’s pressurised defence, with the forwards capitalizing on these errors.

Scrum-half Blake Morgan marshalled the pack and distributed well, with some powerful tackling from winger Struan Connor and Pat Atkinson keeping Sandal on the back foot.

The Wakefield-based side tried to fight back, but a poor defensive kick from flanker Elliot Thompson went straight to Connor, who scored his 10th try of the season. The missed conversion made it 12-0 on the half-hour mark.

Ramsey’s kicking has improved in the last three games, as has Ilkley’s line-out, and the fly-half’s 50-metre penalty kick put Sandal under pressure just before the break, but no score came as a result.

The visitors started the second half brightly, but wayward passes and mismanaged line-outs cost them the game.

An interception try by Number Eight Adam Hopkinson threw Sandal a lifeline on 57 minutes, but it went unconverted by Luke Punton to leave the score at 12-5.

Another good run by Power caught Sandal offside. The penalty was slotted over by Ramsey to create a ten-point gap at 15-5.

Ilkley eventually tied the up game on 66 minutes with a wonderful try under the posts from Blake Morgan.

Beginning inside Ilkley’s 22, Power made a gritty 25-metre run, with his pass met by right winger JH Johnson, who sprinted 40 metres before beautifully passing inside to Morgan. Ramsey converted to finish off the scoring at 22-5 to the hosts.

Ilkley head coach Rhys Morgan was delighted with what he saw, saying: “I wanted a Christmas special against Harrogate last week, but the lads didn’t deliver – they did this week. We’ve grown in confidence.

“Pat Power’s sorted out our scrummage and line-out – he deserves a lot of credit as a young coach.”

Sandal head coach Joe Bedford grumbled: “The conditions were horrendous – it was one of those days where the team that made the most mistakes lost. It’s fine margins in those conditions.”