Underbank Rangers 18 Illingworth 25
Illingworth opened their away programme in Division Two with a hard earned, if at times scrappy, win at Underbank.
With the slope in their favour the visitors dominated the first period and took just four minutes to take the lead.
Good hands from Graham Dobson and Luke Sandland gave Jack Bradbury the chance to put winger Leigh King over for four points.
On the quarter hour, the Underbank full back fielded a high bomb, but as he landed was hit with a crunching tackle by Joe Crossland; Andrew McElroy swooped on the loose ball and crossed under the posts. Sandland added the extras to give his side a 10 point lead.
Second row forward Chris Longley hit back on 22 minutes crossing for a converted try. In form hooker Dobson restored Illingworth’s lead five minutes from the break, exploiting a gap in the opposition defence to dart over from 10 yards, Sandland again converting. Sandland made it 18-6 at the break adding a penalty from 15 yards out as the half closed.
Centre Joe Lodge cut the deficit to eight points three minutes into the second half cutting through a flat footed defence to cross for an unconverted try.
Starved of possession and field position Illingworth produced a steadfast defensive effort, lead superbly by hard working captain Tom Ashcroft, Brett Steele, Wayne Scott and full back Bradbury.
Steve Oakes and Kieran Nicholson had the best of the visitors’ few second half chances, both being forced into touch with the line beckoning, however it was Underbank who profited, capitalising on an error to cross and cut the gap to eight points.
Dobson steadied Illingworth’s nerves with an outstanding solo effort from dummy half, jinking through the home defence from 30 yards, Sandland slotted over the conversion.
As normal time expired Sandland did well under pressure to add a long range drop goal to his side’s score, but deep into the 10 minutes of injury time the home side added what proved to be a consolation try wide on the left.
Illingworth’s second string extended their unbeaten start to the season with a hard fought 24-12 win over near neighbours Queensbury B.
The visitors opened the scoring on 10 minutes when impressive full back Rory Brook skipped through the home defence to touch down beside the posts and converted for a six point lead.
The hosts hit back when centre veteran Tony Smith picked up a loose ball 25 yards out and took it towards the posts before off loading to the supporting Luke Keoghan who crossed for an unconverted try.
Keoghan was again on hand early in the second half, backing up Dave Keogh who slipped a neat pass around the back of a defender allowing his scrum half to put Illingworth 8-6 ahead.
Queensbury’s Brook regained the lead for the visitors, swooping when his opposite number spilled a high kick to score and again converted.
With Alex McFadden and Shane Davidson outstanding in defence, Illingworth began to exert some authority on the game with good forward runs from Gareth Halliday and Shaun Keoghan.
This concerted pressure lead to hooker Ben Parker levelling the scores, scooting through a crowded defence from 15 yards out. Aaron Horner’s conversion gave his side a two point lead.
Keogh, who had been impressive leading his side around the field, got reward for his efforts on 58 minutes, as he sold a dummy and raced over from half way. Horner’s conversion made it 20-12.
Two minutes later Keogh set up debutant Jermaine Pickles, drawing the opposition centre and giving his winger a run at the line. Pickles committed the full back and scrambled out of Brook’s attempted tackle to score wide out and complete the victory.