ILKESTON RUFC ended their season in style with victory in the Derbyshire Cup Final on Sunday.
Derbyshire Cup Final
Ilkeston RUFC 30
Despite atrocious conditions the Derbyshire Cup Finals day took place at the Stute on Sunday with Ilkeston RUFC winning the main event against Matlock.
Four games on two pitches seemed highly unlikely after the rain of the previous few days, but the tireless work of groundsman Max Egglestone and his team of volunteers worked miracles to enable the event to take place.
The clash with Matlock was a big ask for the Elks as their postponed semi-final game against Derby had only taken place on Wednesday night, a 15-13 victory earning them the final place.
With driving rain and a strong gusting wind a feast of running rugby was never on the cards, and the fact that the pitch had already endured one game called for the highest of skills to cope with the conditions.
The result was always going to depend on who could cope with and adapt to the conditions. On the day it was clearly Ilkeston.
They defended cleverly, soaking up long periods of Matlock pressure without giving them kickable penalties.
Most telling, however, was the Elks’ ability to turn their periods of pressure into points, and with every visit to the Matlock twenty two achieving a positive outcome, their pack saw their hard work rewarded.
With Matt McGuire, Marc Moore and Ben Wells exercising an ever growing advantage in the scrum and Steve Fowkes, Simon Bennett and Tom McKelvey securing superb line-out ball from Moore’s excellent throwing in the conditions, the Elks were able to counter Matlock’s kicking game and always looked comfortable even when playing from deep.
Man-of-the-match Adam Corcoran, Dan Mahoney, McKelvey and Steve Quinn grovelled in the mud to secure ball and deny Matlock quick possession.
As the conditions and the physicality of the contact took its toll the bench played its part with the Elks contingent making the more telling contribution.
Quinn’s departure after 25 minutes, following his try, gave McKelvey a full 55 minutes to impress in the line-out and around the park.
Likewise, Mahoney’s departure with rib problems saw the introduction of Scott Rudkin whose ball carrying caused Matlock problems before he himself was replaced by Elliott Smithurst, full of youthful brawn and intent.
The front row replacements also played their part with Josh Meakin and Gordon Pringle representing the youngest and most senior squad members and slotting in seemlessly to guarantee the pattern and style.
The Elks were first on the board when Joel Haigh slotted a penalty after three minutes.
From the re-start Matlock should have scored but the presence of Greg Taylor and Jack Townsend rescued the situation.
But the relief was short-lived as Young made it level with a penalty on ten minutes.
The Elks regained the lead four minutes later when Corcoran scored the first of his three tries from a line-out and drive.
His second and third were replicas, with the only variation being the supplier of the line out ball as first Fowkes, then Bennett, then McKelvey acted as providers.
The Elks moved from 8-3 to 13-3 following some excellent work from Townsend and Alex Ayres. A line-out again provided the ball, Ben Gatehouse carried and the combination of Haigh and then Quinn provided the finishing touches.
Young kept Matlock in the game with two penalties to leave it 13-9 at half-time, and the visitors should have reducd the arrears at the start of the second-half but sustained pressure coud not be converted and Greg Taylor’s break out, linking with his brother Dan and Ayres, earned a line-out inside the Matlock 22 to set up Corcoran’s second try and stretch the lead to 20-9.
As the game entered the last quarter the Elks pulled away with the forwards taking total control, keeping the ball alive through numerous phases.
With Lewis Taylor’s break taking play deep into Matlock territory, Meakin and Dan Taylor drove the ball on and Gatehouse’s deft chip set-up a race to get the touchdown, which Townsend and Corcoran both claimed, and in the absence of TV replays will continue to be debated. The score was 25-9.
Corcoran claimed a further try on 40 minutes when Tom Pottinger linked with Dan Taylor to earn a line-out. Corcoran again benefited from the well-rehearsed line-out drill.
Matlock had the final say when well into injury-time they claimed a consolation try to leave the final score 30-14.
Classic Drinks Man of the Match - Adam Corcoran.
l Earlier in the day, the Presidents Trophy was first to be fought out with Amber Valley 2nd XV overcoming Buxton 2nds 18-0.
The same clubs contested the Derbyshire Shield and Amber Valley 1st XV made it a club double as they out-scored Buxton 1sts 15-0.
The Second Team Cup ended with with Derby 2nds recording a 5-3 victory over Matlock 2nds.