ILKLEY were disappointed to lose a tight North Premier game 16-15 against Wirral at Stacks Field.

However, the scoreline was justified by a raft of handling errors from the home side as they struggled to finish opportunities.

Wirral scored their only try of the game in the second minute with strong runs from their sizeable pack resulting in a try for prop Jack Yarker, ably converted by James Annetts to make it 7-0.

Further pressure from the away side meant the lead was extended to 10 points seven minutes later with Annetts kicking a penalty from 30 metres out.

Tempers flared throughout a combative game, referee Elliott Lewis choosing not to brandish yellow and red cards to the consternation of some spectators.

After bulldozing 20 metres through midfield on 17 minutes, Ilkley wing JH Johnson appeared to be the victim of a blow to the head which resulted in him going off for concussion. Wirral’s try-scorer Yarker went off shortly after with a broken arm.

Wirral had by then set up camp 10 metres from the Ilkley line, and applied a sustained 10-minute period of pressure with scrums and rucks, but the home side defended as though their lives depended on it.

A great tackle by fly-half Charles Ramsey on giant flanker Matty Dalton disrupted the flow of Wirral’s move, enabling Ilkley to clear their lines.

As Ilkley got to within three metres of the Wirral line, another period of fisticuffs ensued after a lineout, with Dalton going off injured after charging into his own player.

Pat Power dived in for Ilkley just before half-time, Ramsey’s conversion wide from an acute angle, the visitor’s lead reduced to 10-5.

An offside gave Annetts a simple penalty in the 55th minute to extend the lead to 13-5, but 10 minutes later Ilkley had pegged this back with a good kick by Ramsey 30 metres out.

Unforced errors gifted Annetts another penalty, kicking his fourth of the afternoon to make it 16-8.

A try for Joe Lowes in the 75th minute, converted by Ramsey, was just reward for the home side’s perseverance, but too late to enforce a win.

Ilkley coach Jimmy Lowes said: “The lads played extremely well, created some good chances, but the final execution just wasn’t there.”

Wirral coach Darren Hall said: “Credit to Ilkley – this was a Battle Royale and they threw everything they had at us. We’re now in the race for promotion and unbeaten in 2019.”