Otliensians hosted the Aire Wharfe Cup Final on a fine breezy sunny spring evening ideal for good rugby in front of a crowd of over 200 against a strong Ilkley 2nd team who had scored over 60 points in each of their earlier two games.
'Ensians played with the breeze but were put under the cosh for the first 15 minutes resulting in an unconverted try for Ilkley. However the blues fought back and after intense pressure Will Rigg scored a try converted by Harry Bentley to take the lead 7 points to 5.
The home team continued to spend much of the time in the Visitor's half and after 27 minutes went further ahead with the try of the match –after the forwards had worked hard the ball was opened out superbly across the backs who outpaced the defence for winger Lewis Platt to score wide out but unluckily the conversion attempt hit the upright. The home team continued to press the Ilkley line but a penalty chance again hit the upright.
Approaching half time with play in the Ilkley 22 a breakaway against the run of play by the speedy Ilkley backs outpaced the Home defence resulting in a converted try to make it all square at half time 12 points each.
Despite playing against the wind the Home team spent much time in the Ilkley half . After 15 minutes following fine line out ball by Ali Campbell the ball sped across the backs for Luke Cowdell to make the initial break and on to winger Eithan Hide who hugged the touch line to go over for a memorable unconverted try. Then after clearing an Ilkley attack in the Home 22 by pinching Ilkley lineout ball the counter attack into the Visitor's 22 gained a penalty by Harry Bentley to give 'Ensians a lead of 20 points to 12.
Play was even and after 33 minutes Ilkley pressed into the Home 22 and scored an unconverted try from a scrum.
It was "game on" and the result was in the balance—and so it continued until the start of about 7 minutes injury time when a well timed Ilkley interception by probably their speediest player gave them a converted try to take the lead.
There was still time for 'Ensians to gain the winner but an excellent "50-22"kick by the Viszitors gave them lineout ball near the Home line and, as the last move of the match, they drove over for a converted try making a final score of 29 points to 20 and Aire Wharfe Cup victory to Ilkley.
It had been a magnificent hard fought game between two well matched teams and the 3 match officials did their part in providing the enjoyment of the match. Well done Ilkley-but it was so very very close.
From 'Ensians point of view they have had a much better season than anticipated last September and Promotion must be their aim for next season. Well done everyone.-players and all the coaching and support team.