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Hull within touching distance of league title after beating Ilkley

Hull maintained their lead at the top of the league but they were pushed hard by an Ilkley side who kept possession well and defended with real commitment. 

Hull’s handling lacked it usual precision and their lineout faltered in the second period but they still had too much scrummaging power and flair in the back division for their visitors.

Ilkley started well and with a strong breeze to help them were three points up through the boot of their off half Charles Ramsey who kicked the first of his two first half penalties after just five minutes. 

Hull then had a couple of opportunities themselves but they penalised when, after seven minutes, a good catch-and-drive was halted when they were deemed to have split and a few moments later a forward pass denied them a chance of a try.

Ilkley took advantage of the situation and Charles Ramsey kicked another penalty after 14 minutes to give his side a 6-0 advantage.

Ilkley’s full back Struan Connor put further pressure on Hull with a fine break a couple of minutes later but Hull’s excellent defence snuffed out the danger and the home side worked their way upfield and having lost the ball when one catch and drive looked promising made no mistake a minute later when prop Ben Bootham was credited with the try as Hull drove over the line from 10 yards out from a lineout. Simon Humberstone’s conversion seeing Hull in the lead for the first time 7-6.

With back row man Cameron Currry playing a leading role in the forward drives, Hull were creating opportunities at scrum and lineout but they failed to score for 17 minutes as they turned over the ball at vital moments.

After 33 minutes, Hull’s dominance at the scrummage saw them awarded a penalty try as Ilkley dived into the back of Hull’s scrum as it surged over the line. Hull’s were now leading 14-6 but as the half drew to its close Ilkley broke clear and chip ahead into Hull’s dead ball area seemed to put real pressure on the home side but Mike Adlard had other ideas. He caught the ball evaded a couple of tacklers before breaking to his left. Support was on hand and seconds later his full-back Lee Birch was sprinting through an overstretched Ilkley defence to score a spectacular try under the posts. Humberstone’s conversion seeing Hull ahead 21-6 at the break.

Most Hull supporters were looking to a Hull points fest in the second period as their side had a considerable wind advantage but Ilkley had other ideas.

With back row Tom O’Donnell being yellow-carded after 48 minutes and Hull’s line-out not functioning as it had done in the first half Ilkley had ample possession to apply pressure to the Hull defences. 

It was now that Hull’s defensive organisation came to their aid a waves of Ilkley attacks foundered as Hull tackled everything that moved.

With just 10 minutes remaining Ilkley got some reward for the efforts when their winger Blake Morgan latched onto a loose ball as it bounced over the line to score a try and close the gap to 10 points.

Hull response was immediate and decisive. Hull quickly regained possession from the kick-off and and a nicely weighted inside pass from Humberstone to winger Stephen Hihetah saw the winger burst through a split defence to score under the posts after seventy two minutes and claim Hull’s four try bonus point. Humberstone’s conversion sealing another Hull victory 28-11 and maintaining their considerable points advantage at the top of the league with time fast running out for other aspirants.

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