Elks continue title push with home win

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Ilkeston maintained their promotion push with another home win as Newark were the latest victims to fall at The Stute, 24-12.

The win means Ilkeston are now joint top with Old Northamptonians, although just four points separate the top five sides with fifth-placed Matlock the Elks’ next opponents on Saturday.

The Elks were missing key players in Adam Corcoran, Lewis Taylor, Ryan Mills and Jonathan Falls, and Newark began well by applying pressure to the home 22.

Bizarrely, Elks then lost three more players injured, Greg Taylor and Steve Quinn with a hamstring injuries and Jake Lamb who had hurt his ankle.

Several players were now out of but Elks battled well despite the disruption and took the lead when a good break by Alex Ayres ended with Dan Taylor crashing over on 36 minutes, Joel Haigh converting to make it 7-0 at half-time.

Elks had the slope advantage in the second-half and were soon on the attack with Dean Chapman. Haigh chipped ahead and caught his own kick, beat the defender and fed Ben Wells who was on hand to take the ball and crash over from close range. This was converted by Haigh to make it 14-0 after 41 minutes.

The lead was extended further after an hour, as Matt McGuire, Ayres, Paul Shoebridge and Josh Meakin all worked well and the ball was recycled quickly and fed to Dan Taylor who threw a lovely mis-pass to Ayres to enable him to score on 61 minutes, the conversion missed making it 19-0.

Newark refused to lie down and came back strongly. The Elks were penalised and Newark kicked to touch and won the line out. The maul was driven well towards the line but held up short and Newark quickly went blind and found space on the left to score on 65 minutes and make it 19-5

Some poor kicking by Elks then gave easy ball to Newark and they capitalised on one such kick after 70 minutes and scored again, this one converted to make it 19-12 and make for a nervy final ten minutes.

But Elks responded well and soon went further in front when a scrum was driven towards the line and when Ayres received the ball he went on a mazy run, beating several defenders before feeding Tom Pottinger to sprint clear and score in the left corner on 76 minutes, unconverted, to make it 24-12 which was how the game finished.

There were some great performances, especially the youngsters who came on, but for some great ball carrying and outstanding defence, the man-of-the-match vote went to Alex Ayres.