Saturday, April 2, 2011
Midlands One East
ILKESTON kept their hopes of a play-off place alive with a crucial victory over Derby at The Stute on Saturday.
This encounter fully lived up to expectations and tested the nerves of the largest crowd of the season.
It was a must win game for both sides and Ilkeston duly delivered, but Derby’s hopes are also alive as they secured a very valuable bonus point.
The Elks tore into the visitors from the first whistle and never slackened the intensity until the last.
The game started at a frantic pace but once the adrenaline had settled the crowd was treated to a feast of skilful and passionate rugby.
With five minutes gone the hosts took the lead. Marc Moore’s line-out throw found Steve Quin and his forwards drove the maul with Beau Carney emerging to claim the score.
JJ Connolly failed with the conversion but a 5-0 lead was still a dream start for the Elks.
Derby came charging back, using the slope and breeze to peg the Elks inside their own half, and brought the game level with an unconverted try in the corner following quick ball from a line out on half way and swift transference through the backs.
Greg Taylor almost re-instated the lead when he jinked his way out of his own half and found support from Adam Corcoran and Quinn but Robertson was alert to the danger to provide an all important tackle.
The always eager Ellis Hallam then made hard yards and linked with Dan Taylor who sprinted into space and fed Carney who made it close to the line but was penalised for holding on.
Derby were too asking questions of defence and, as the half closed, applied pressure with a series of line-outs and scrums close to the home line, but their efforts were denied thanks to some stubborn defence to keep all level at half-time.
The Elks exerted the early pressure in the second-half and pinned Derby in their own half.
Showing a willingness to run from deep Wescott broke free and only a covering tackle from Joel Haigh prevented a score.
As the game switched from end to end the excellent control of referee Claire Hodnett kept the heads cool and allowed passages of play to develop.
Ilkeston went back in front 20 minutes into the half when Connolly slotted over a penalty earned by Ben Gatehouse.
Moore nearly made it to the line moments later but couldn’t ground the ball, but the Elks weren’t to be denied and from the five-metre scrum picked and made ground.
Quick ball from Haigh and deft hands from Graham Chenoweth put Quinn into the corner for a converted try, stretching the lead to 15-5.
The lead could have been increased from the re-start when good hands and support play involving Quinn, Carney, Craig Wallace and Haigh saw Derby penalised but Connolly pulled his shot wide from 45 metres.
As the game entered the last ten minutes Derby fought their way back with a fine individual effort from Marlow following a line out on 30 metres out.
But with the score at 15-12 and time running out Moore took a strike against the head and Carney broke. He found support from Greg Taylor who linked with brother Lewis to take play into the Derby 22 and set up a ruck.
The ball was recycled and Connolly coolly slotted a drop goal for the final score giving the Elks the spoils at 18-12.
Classic Drinks Man of the Match – Dan Taylor.