Saturday, October 22
Midlands One (East)
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.