Elks claim another fine scalp with good display

ILKESTON followed up the fine win over Paviors by overcoming second-placed Kettering on Saturday.

Midlands One (East)

Kettering 14

Ilkeston 18

ILKESTON followed up the fine win over Paviors by overcoming second-placed Kettering on Saturday.

Waverley Road is never an easy place to visit and this was the home side’s first defeat on their own patch and only the third time they have lost this season.

And it was all the more impressive given Ilkeston were without regulars Adam Stoker, Scott Rudkin, Steve Quinn and Jono Falls - the win keeping hopes of a top two finish firmly alive.

The game did not start well for the Elks when they were penalised at a line out after just a minute and Daniels converted to give the home side a 3 - 0 lead.

The following ten minutes showed the intent of both sides as they looked to move the ball wide at every opportunity.

A solid scrum on half way allowed JJ Connolly to put the ball in behind the Kettering defence. Lewis Taylor’s chase rushed Marchbank into his clearance kick, and Taylor charged the ball down, regathered and scored in the corner to give the Elks a 5-3 lead.

From the re-start Joel Haigh found space and fed Dan Taylor who moved the ball to Ben Wells. A quick ruck bought Gordon Pringle, Ben Gatehouse and Marc Moore into play to set up a second ruck inside Kettering’s 22.

Again the ball was quickly recycled through the hands of Stephen Fowkes and Tom McKelvey to Dan Taylor whose clever grubber was gathered by his brother Lewis who raced around the cover to score his second try in the corner and stretch the lead to 3-10.

Kettering continued to seek holes in the visitors’ defence but ferocious tackling from Dan Taylor and Ben Gatehouse in midfield and Lewis Taylor, Sean Denning and Greg Taylor in the wide areas kept the line intact.

A huge hit from Simon Bennett then enabled McKelvey to turn the ball over, link with Wells and Moore and present Connolly with a drop goal attempt which he pulled wide from 30 metres.

McKelvey’s involvement resulted in a head injury and he was helped from the field to give anothet youngster, Jake Smithurst, his debut.

As the game swung from end to end the quality of the Elks’ work at the breakdown prevented Kettering from exploiting their possession.

Smithurst, Bennett and Dan Mahoney were a constant nuisance to the home side, helping to slow the ball down or turning it over.

As the half closed Kettering enjoyed their best patch and were rewarded on 38 minutes with a penalty on the 22. Daniels made it 6-10.

The Elks extended their lead to 6-15 before the half ended. Pete Garland secured a line out and the ball was moved wide to Denning. Excellent handling and support play from Dan Taylor, Haigh, Connolly and Greg Taylor made space for Fowkes to score in the corner.

The Elks were first on the board in the second-half.

Garland claimed the restart and linked with Gatehouse who crashed through midfieldand fed Dan Taylor. Smithurst and Wells were on hand to drive the ball forward and Kettering were penalised at the breakdown.

Haigh cooly slotted the goal to stretch the lead to 6-18.

As Kettering laid seige Garland showed composure to mark a ball close to his own line, take a quick tap and set Mahoney on a charge to half way but a penalty at the ruck allowed the home side to regain territory.

A line out close to the visitors’ line saw Kettering move the ball wide. It was recycled in midfield and quick ball allowed Newman to squeeze around a stretched defence making it 11-18.

The Elks continued to mount attacks but a wayward kick then gave Daniels and Chapman a chance to counter and win a penalty which Daniels duly converted to bring the game to 14-18.

Sniffing the chance of pinching the game Kettering redoubled their efforts but determined defence and a refusal to allow the home side to dictate the pace kept the line intact.

Jake Lamb, Moore, Lewis Taylor and Bennett turned defence into attack and combined with Dan Taylor and Wells to earn a penalty but Haigh pulled the effort wide.

As the final whistle approached the exertion and pace of the game began to take its toll and players on both sides dug deep to find every last piece of energy and drag themselves from one phase of play to the next.

The Elks’ efforts were rewarded as they repelled Kettering’s desperate attempts to claim the spoils and the relief at the final whistle was shared by players and traveling supporters alike.

Man of the match - Marc Moore.

Ilkeston’s final game before the Christmas break will be at home to Peterborough this Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm.

They will then be out of action until January 7 when they make the short trip to Derby.