ANOTHER brutal North Premier encounter saw hosts Ilkley go down 21-15 to a Blaydon side who defended admirably throughout.

The visitors struck early, Jack Appleton going over uncontested down the left wing to score in the second minute, converted by giant fly half Jamie Guy.

Ilkley gradually worked their way back into the game, pressurising Blaydon’s line-out with powerful forward drives from Max McKay and Luke Pearson in particular.

Flanker Joe Lowes spun out of tackles, and captain Elliot Morgan - celebrating his 100th cap for Ilkley - tried to smash a way through Blaydon’s blanket defence.

In the 13th minute this almost bore fruit. Blake Morgan burst down the left wing in a 27-metre run from a neat pass by Eddy Brown, only to be bundled into touch by Frazer Wilson.

Ilkley won a penalty in the 16th minute, Chuckie Ramsey tapping over from just to the left of the posts.

The home side continued to test Blaydon’s defence, with brave runs from prop Billy Nicholls gaining hard yards against a muscular Blaydon pack.

JH Johnson worked hard on his return from injury, spearheading assaults on the Blaydon line.

But locks Harry Borthwick and Liam Wright hammered the home defence, making serious inroads, resulting in a 28th minute try for captain Keith Laughlin. Guy’s conversion made it 14-3.

Ilkley very nearly got in at the corner seconds later, Johnson powering onto another beautifully-timed pass from Brown - but Wilson slammed him into touch.

The home forwards continued to battle faithfully in the second half, with some great passages of play from both sides.

There were further battering runs from Billy Nichols and Harry Wales, Ilkley’s front row proving workmanlike, and some fine angled runs from young lock Ben Waddington, who showed great promise.

A poor Ilkley line-out in the 62nd minute resulted in a well-taken try for Blaydon centre James Cooney, a fine touchline conversion from Guy meaning the game was sealed at 21-3.

But a late rally from Ilkley presented tries to Blake Morgan and Waddington – just rewards.

Ramsey belted over a touchline conversion to end the game 21-15 as Ilkley claimed a deserved bonus point.

Coach Rhys Morgan said: “Two knock-ons and a forward pass – you can’t do that against Blaydon. But we’ve pushed Hull and Blaydon to the wire – two semi-professional clubs.”

Blaydon coach Matt Thompson said: “We’re a bit disappointed. I don’t think we strung a lot of phases together, but we defended very solidly.”

With four games to go, Blaydon go into the play-off position, second-equal with Harrogate, while Ilkley are in ninth.