ILKLEY claimed a big scalp in beating high-flying Billingham with a comfortable bonus-point 29-7 success.

The Teessiders started the match in the North Premier’s second-place play-off spot, having only lost three games to the Dalesmen’s seven.

Ilkley made the most of a powerful wind behind them in the first half, with some big kicking from fly half Pat Atkinson backed up by Pat Power and his forwards.

Bullocking runs on the crash-ball from prop Ollie Holtham and lock Luke Pearson got the home side to within four metres of the line when a sharp interception from outside centre Eldon Myers on seven minutes took the action into Ilkley’s half.

A well-organised series of phases from Billingham led to a try under the posts from Myers four minutes later amid flaring tempers from both sides, as the game began to heat up.

Captain Peter Evans added the conversion to make it 7-0.

But Ilkley’s forwards did not want their honest toil to go begging, and a rolling maul on 17 minutes rumbled them closer to the line.

The pressure eventually told when captain Elliot Morgan burst through to score beside the posts, converted by Atkinson to level the scores.

Although sections of the crowd seemed a little disgruntled at some of his decisions, young referee Elliott Lewis kept the game fluid, allowing for a high standard of rugby from both sides.

Ilkley started to emerge the more dangerous, and after several attacks that were ruled offside, left wing Struan Connor sprinted in from halfway to score just before the break.

The missed conversion made it 12-7.

Billingham began the second half in determined fashion, though Ilkley were stoical in defence.

But, as in the first half, the home side soaked up the pressure before delivering a series of well-orchestrated forward drives in pairs and threes, the impressive Max McKay being driven over.

The conversion was again missed, Ilkley stretching out a lead at 17-7.

Further pressure on Billingham’s crumbling defence meant a sad injury to flanker Shaun Richardson, stretchered off with a fractured tibia.

A ruthless McKay responded with a second try, this time from a close-range scrum in the 65th minute, the conversion bringing it to 24-7.

JH Johnson set up a move which culminated in Elliot Morgan going over for his second try to seal the match for Ilkley in the 71st minute.

Delighted Ilkley coach Rhys Morgan said: “Billingham play a good brand of rugby and we were fortunate they were missing No 8 Dan Dixon, who’s a very good player, but the lads listened well to the tactics and we executed our plans well.”

Billingham player-coach Peter Evans said: “We were outplayed and llkley seemed the more fired up of the two teams. Our squad is also starting to creak a bit with all the injuries we’ve been having.”

Ilkley are up to fifth in the league, with Billingham dropping to third.