Elks up to fifth after win

Ilkeston RUFC's JJ Connolly attempts to make progress during the win over Bedford Athletic on Saturday.
Ilkeston RUFC's JJ Connolly attempts to make progress during the win over Bedford Athletic on Saturday.

Saturday, October 22

Midlands One (East)

Ilkeston 38

Bedford Athletic 17

ILKESTON returned to winning ways by comfortably overcoming Bedford at The Stute on Saturday.

On a glorious autumn afternoon, the Elks had several key players return to their squad after missing the defeat at Market Rasen, and the quality shone through in a fine win.

The opening score came the way of the Elks when a quick tap penalty saw JJ Connolly and Scott Rudkin combine to put in Dan Taylor who sped over for the try.

Connolly added the conversion to leave the Elks 7-0 up after ten minutes.

Just before the half-hour the Elks extended their lead when Haigh made 40m with a penalty and from a soaring take in the line-out by Russ Garland the ball went quickly through the hands of Haigh, Connolly and Ben Gatehouse to Pete Smith who dived over to leave the score 14-0 after Connolly’s second conversion.

Within three minutes the Elks stampeded up the slope once more, and a quick Connolly tap penalty again undid the visitors’ defence and he set Dan Mahoney free to scamper over and leave the Elks in front 19-0 after the missed conversion from Connolly.

A period of consistent Bedford pressure led to a series of scrums which all followed the same pattern, with the outcome being a try from centre Luke Levitt after a show and go from 22 metres out which left the half-time score at 19-5 to the Elks.

And Bedford were to register again early in the second-half, when a line-out thrown short and their stand-in receiver dived over to double their score to 19-10.

Not to be outdone, the Elks struck back within four minutes.

The Elks pack shoved the visitors backwards at a scrum, won a penalty and the resulting line-out saw a deer’s leap by Tom McKelvey which released the Elks backs.

Swift hands by all and quick recycling of the ball gave Connolly the chance which he was not to reject. A delightful show and change of step saw him dart through a gaping hole in the visitors’ defence and convert his own effort to nudge the Elks along to 26-10.

With the four try bonus point secured the good home crowd were now licking their lips in anticipation of a rousing win.

The re-start was the stuff of legend. Scrum-half Haigh collected the kick, made a break down the touchline, dummied two defenders and kicked behind the remaining defence.

The visitors’ full-back gathered the ball and hoofed it downfield for Dan Taylor to gather and deliver a delicious crossfield kick down the slope to younger brother Lewis, who won the foot race and scurried over in the corner to leave the score 31-10.

Bedford rallied and within two minutes, following several slack Elks penalties, they took a quick tap penalty themselves as the Elks hibernated and scored under the post to move the score on to 31-17.

The Elks continued to encourage the visitors with missed tackles and it took a great covering tackle from Dan Taylor to stem the tide.

The Elks responded and finally drove the final nail into the Bedford coffin when, from another good line-out, they moved the ball infield where Gatehouse flicked it back inside to Rudkin, who after taking a good line crashed over which with Connolly’s extras left the final score at 38-17.

The result lifts the Elks above Matlock in the table who they meet next week at Cromford Meadows, kick-off 3pm.

Classic Drinks Man of the Match – Dan Taylor.