Gutsy Ilkeston battled through heavy rain and persistent showers to run out deserved 17-0 winners over Wellingborough in the Midlands 1 East division.
The testing conditions made rugby extremely hard, but although both sides remained fully committed, Elks adapted better to crush opponents as high as fifth in the table. The forwards, in particular, all put in a good shift.
With the advantage of the slope in the first half, Ilkeston dominated territory, although a combination of individual errors and good Wellingborough defence restricted their impact.
Ilkeston also suffered a scare when play was held up for several minutes as Ellis Hallam received an accidental blow to the head and had to be taken to hospital. Thankfully, he returned later after treatment to a nasty cut.
Elks finished the half well and pressure finally told as Wellingborough conceded several penalties, which resulted in a yellow card for their number eight. The last penalty was kickable and Jono Falls struck the ball cleanly to give the home side a half-time lead of 3-0.
In the second period, Ilkeston came out of the blocks much more quickly and after a loose kick, Falls counter-attacked to the 22. Wellingborough knocked on when attempting to gather the ball and Elks had an attacking scrum. When the visitors were penalised, man-of-the-match Joel Haigh took a quick tap, drew the defence and slipped the ball to Jake Lamb, who marked his arrival as a substitute by bursting through under the posts to score. Falls added the extras to make it 10-0 after 43 minutes.
The home team took heart from the score and started to dominate up front, keeping the ball well. Another attacking scrum was driven forward and quick ball from the base found Lamb in space. He handed off the nearest tackler and showed terrific strength to score again, with Falls again following up with the conversion.
That proved to be the end of the scoring, however, as discipline became an issue for the Elks and a series of penalties forced them back into their own half. After another penalty, the referee lost patience and sin-binned Chris Tipton in the 63rd minute.
Wellingborough tried hard to take advantage of the extra man, but their handling in the rain let them down. They were helped again when Lamb was judged to have deliberately knocked on and was yellow carded. However, the last ten minutes became very scrappy.
Elks played in the right areas, mainly in the Wellingborough half, and after another penalty, the frustrated visitors lost their number eight as he received his second yellow card of the game.
This coming Saturday sees another tough challenge as Elks host Kettering, who have made a fine start to the season and sit fourth in the table after six wins from nine games. The kick-off at the Stute is 2.15 pm.