Elks suffer semi-final heartbreak in Shield

Paul Stevenson charges forward during the defeat to Market Rasen. Photo by Rod Wetton.
Paul Stevenson charges forward during the defeat to Market Rasen. Photo by Rod Wetton.

Ilkeston failed to recover from a poor first-half as they lost their NLD Shield semi-final 17-15 against Market Rasen on Saturday.

The Elks began well but lost key player Dan Taylor early on, replaced by Angus Hulme.

Rasen then took the lead when a chip over the top wrong-footed the Elks defence and Rasen’s centre gathered the ball and ran in unopposed, the extras added to make it 7-0 on 13 minutes.

Elks responded well with a good carry from Tom Pottinger but Rasen’s defence was strong and cleared the danger.

Further disruption then came the Elks’ way with Simon Hallam forced off through injury, he being replaced by Dan Bell.

Rasen then extended their lead on 22 minutes. Discipline was again an issue at the breakdown and Elks were penalised for hands in the ruck, Rasen kicked to the corner and from the line-out took good ball and drove forward. Their forwards controlled thedrive and crashed over for another try, the extras missed.

Penalties at the breakdown were ruining any attacking chances for the Elks, allowing all the momentum to come from Market Rasen.

Rasen were next to infringe and Elks had their best attack through Jake Lamb, Adam Corcoran and Jono Falls as the ball was recycled but knocked on soon afterwards.

Elks continued to make individual errors as Rasen finished the half strongly.

They turned over an Elks scrum and the scrum-half broke right before offloading and although the tackle was good another offload saw Market Rasen go over for their third try.

The extras were missed but a dreadful first-half for the Elks saw them 17-0 down at half-time

Elks faced a massive challenge but at least had the slope for the second-half and were helped when Rasen had theirflanker sin binned for side entry.

Elks threw everything at Rasen in an attempt to get back in the game but errors were still halting any progress, Richard Stevenson another forced to leave the field with injury.

Elks were given a golden chance when Rasen made a mistake in their own 22 and after an attacking scrum the visitors scored through Hugh Smith in the corner, extras missed making it 17-5 to Rasen after 68 minutes.

It was now all Elks as they chased the game and a loose kick from Rasen was returned by Joel Haigh who fed Smith who drew his man and passed to Falls to score, extras again missed meaning Rasen led 17-10 after 74 minutes.

The game was now frantic as Elks went in search of the vital score and they finally got it through Smith with his second try, although it was in the corner and left a difficult conversion to take it to extra time, Falls falling short with the kick and the game was gone.

Tom Pottinger stood out with his good carries and work rate and got the Man of the Match award.

Saturday sees top-of-the-table Syston visit the Stute, kick-off 3pm.