Midlands One East
Elks travelled across the border to Newark and won an exciting encounter 30-27 as both teams played expansive rugby with only pride to play for as the result meant little in league standings.
Both teams were missing key players but Elks made the brighter start, Jono Falls landing an early penalty to lead 3-0.
The first try soon followed as an Elks scrum forced a mistake from Newark and Alex Ayres kicked ahead from the loose ball. He won the race to touch down and Falls added the extras to give the Elks an early 10-0 after ten minutes.
Elks were soon on the attack with Greg Taylor running hard, though when Newark were penalised Falls missed the shot at goal.
Newark’s discipline was again causing them issues and Falls took advantage with another penalty on 18 minutes to stretch the lead to 13-0.
Newark finally got a breakthrough when the centre broke through and offloaded well for them to score their first try after 36 minutes, the conversion added.
Elks started the second-half as well as the first and scored again when Rueben Elley broke clear with storming run to score under the posts, the extras by Falls.
Newark responded with an unconverted try of their own in the corner before they then saw their number eight yellow-carded after a skirmish.
Elks took full advantage of the extra man and following another Nick Gray line-out catch the ball was moved into midfield, a gap was spotted on the blind by Ayres and he fed Elley who raced through for his second try, this time unconverted to make it 25-12 in Ilkeston’s favour.
A Newark penalty and then an unconverted try reduced the gap to five points, but Elks were straight back on the attack and scored the try of the match when Ayres, Greg Taylor, Jacob Heath, Jack Partington were all involved and Partington threw a nice mis-pass to Falls who scored in the left corner, the conversion missed making it 20-30 after 70 minutes.
A late Newark response rounded off the scoring despite a further late scare ended by a knock on, but Ilkeston held on to round off their league season with a win.
Elks always seemed to have enough but could never stretch clear as Newark kept fighting back.
There was some great running rugby on show but the stand out performance came from Reuben Elley who gave Newark all sorts of problems with his direct running and claimed the man-of-the-match honour.
League games may be over but the Elks have the NLD final to look forward to against Scunthorpe on April 26 at Matlock RFC’s ground (Cromford Meadows), with a 3.30pm kick-off.