Kirkby took their magnificent 28-game unbeaten record to Ilkley on Saturday, but their winning streak came to an end after a 21-7 defeat.
Ilkley kicked off, playing left to right in front of the clubhouse, and managed to get their hands on the ball, which they kept hold of for the first four minutes, eventually working their number eight John Henry Johnson over by the posts, the conversion putting them 7 -0 up.
The Ilkley backs were well drilled and sharp, but aided in their cause by some unusually slack first up tackling by Kirkby. This gave them space to run, which they exploited down the left touchline, where a chip over and re-gather from their flying full back Ben Magee sent him in under the posts to make it 14-0 after quarter of an hour, during which Kirkby had hardly touched the ball.
With 22 minutes on the clock, the legitimate Ilkley left wing Tom Milner escaped tackles to run into space down his touchline and around to the posts, where the easy conversion took them to 21-0 as the first quarter came to an end.
However, they didn’t score again for the rest of the match as the reformed Kirkby began to find some understanding and cohesion and got themselves into the game. Line-outs were quite secure for both sides, but the Kirkby pack definitely had the edge in the set scrum, and from a scrum around ten metres from the home line, Kirkby number eight Alex Rogers picked up and burst through, but he was held just short.
Kirkby were able to put the ball through several phases during this attack but were eventually tackled into touch and Ilkley cleared from the line-out.
Another scrum success, this time from a home put in, saw the Ilkley front row come up as Kirkby drove, and stand-off Dave Barton put the penalty into touch inside the 22.
The line-out put Kirkby on the attack again as the clock ran towards half -time, although the home side defended several phases without conceding and took a 21–0 lead into the break.
Kirkby started the second half in much better style than the first and pinned Ilkley back in their 22 during a period of pressure, which saw the home number four, Martyn Mitchell, pick up a yellow card after five minutes.
Kirkby worked to exploit the extra man advantage and did get over the line, only to be deemed held up and, while they maintained the pressure on Ilkley from the scrum, the home side defended robustly to keep them out.
As the first half had been mostly Ilkley, the second half was mainly all Kirkby, occasional forays into the Kirkby half by Ilkley had the home spectators calling for the bonus point fourth try, but it was a more even contest now and they were unable to deliver it.
Try-scoring opportunities came and went for Kirkby, but handling errors butchered a number of chances.
Kirkby had to wait until inside the last ten minutes until they scored through Barton, full back Ryan Terry knocking over the conversion to make the final score 21-7, ending Kirkby’s impressive 28-game unbeaten run.