Elks’ form continues but Nuneaton make it tough

Adam Corcoran was among the try scorers for Ilkeston.
Adam Corcoran was among the try scorers for Ilkeston.

ILKESTON continued their winning run but were made to work for their success at struggling Nuneaton Old Edwardians on Saturday.

Midlands One (East)

Nuneaton Old E’dians 30 Ilkeston RUFC 32

ILKESTON continued their winning run but were made to work for their success at struggling Nuneaton Old Edwardians on Saturday.

Fourth from top against second from bottom should have been a foregone conclusion, even with Nuneaton having home advantage.

The hosts, however, are determined to hang on to their league status and on this display deserve to do so.

Absentees again caused some problems for Ilkeston, particularly the the absence of a reliable goal kicker, but the late fightback to clinch a bonus point win shows the desire to bag the second place play-off spot is still strong.

The Elks started well and applied the early pressure but found themselves 7-0 down after five minutes when Sven Brown was giftedan interception inside his own half and scored unopposed between the posts. Jones added the conversion.

The home side stretched their lead when off the top line-out ball was moved wide. With no apparent threat Brown escaped his marker and raced into the corner to make it 12-0 after 12 minutes.

From the re-start the Elks then went 17-0 down when Reece and Alcott created an overlap for Tay Brown to score in the corner.

Realising they had a battle on their hands the visitors at last found some continuity.

The scrum delivered quick ball, Joel Haigh moved it and crisp hands gave man of the match Alex Ayres a chance to break the defensive line.

He fed it to Smith who drew Peacock and put Lewis Taylor over in the corner to bring the Elks on the scoreboard with 20 minutes on the clock.

The score breathed life into Ilkeston and they applied the pressure. A promising position was squandered when an attacking line-out was lost and worse was to follow when a speculative kick from Kalnins was not dealt with and Alcott was gifted a second intercepted try which Jones converted to give Nuneaton a 24-5 lead with 30 minutes gone.

As the half closed the Elks replied with a try by Pete Smith.

Tom McKelvey secured a line out on half way and Ben Gatehouse moved the ball wide. Doing the simple things well Ayres and Greg Taylor combined to put Smith in a gap and his pace took him clear. Haigh added the extras to leave it 24-12 at half-time.

Smith then scored his second try early in the second-half with a superb individual effort starting deep in his own half , but the absence of a reliable goal kicker looked as though it would be costly when Gatehouse missed from in front of the posts to make it 24-17.

From the re-start the Elks infringed and Jones slotted a long range penalty to stretch the lead to 27-17.

He repeated the feat three minutes later when sub Scott Rudkin was penalised and sent to the sin bin leaving the Elks 30-17 adrift and a man down.

Despite the deficit in numbers the visitors enjoyed their best spell. Lewis Taylor, Adam Corcoran and Matt McGuire drove play out of their own 22 and sensing a way back the forwards started to put together phases with Steve Fowkes, Marc Moore and Josh Meakin showing some of their trade mark ball carrying.

Restored to full complement the Elks began to dictate play. With the scrum and line out securing ball and Haigh delivering quickly the backs at last found space.

Ten minutes remained when Gatehouse, McKelvey and Ayres earned a scrum close to the NUneaton line.

A solid platform allowed Corcoran to pick up and Liam Smithurst and Fowkes drove him over to make it 30-22.

From the re-start Moore, Corcoran and McGuire drove the ball into the Nuneaton half and found Greg Taylor. With little space and surrounded by defenders he conjured a try of pure skill and strength to bring the Elks to within three points at 30-27.

As full-time approached Haigh put a penalty into the corner. McKelvey took the throw and the Elks brought the well rehearsed driving maul into play.

Showing patience and good organisation the forwards mauled the ball over the line and McKelvey touched down for the final score of the game to give the Elks a 30-32 victory.

This was not the most fluent of wins but it did demonstrate that the Elks are capable of grinding out a win, making it five in a row, each with bonus point, and keeping play-off hopes alive.

Classic Drinks Man of the Match - Alex Ayres.