Ilkeston RUFC gained another victory and a four-try bonus point as they overcame a gritty Kettering side 24-17 at the Stute on Saturday.
The win moves Ilkeston to just two points behind the league leaders and came despite several enforced position changes due to injuries .
These changes had no effect at all in the first 15 minutes as the Elks, with the slope, flew out of the blocks and following quick recycled ball Stephen Fowkes crashed over on three minutes, converted by Joel Haigh to make it 7-0.
And it wasn’t long before the lead was doubled. Kettering were penalised for an early push at the scrum and the ball was worked left, where continuedpressure eventually told when Matt McGuire crashed over on 18 minutes, again converted by Haigh to make it 14-0.
The Elks were doing the lion’s share of attacking whilst at the same time defending well, but following a collision at the break down play was held up for several minutes after Steve Quinn was knocked out.
Fowkes was able to return to the field after treatment to replace Quinn on 37 minutes, who after a lengthy spell down was thankfully OK to leave the field on his feet.
After the long break in play both sides looked rushed and a bit flat and no further scores were registered before half time.
Kettering had the slope second-half and kicked off looking to get back in the game.
They were quickly on the attack and took play well into the Elks 22, the ball was worked left and quick hands gave them the opportunity to score. This was converted on 43 minutes to bring the score to 14-7
This immediately spurred the Elks into a response and following a good series of forward drives the ball was driven close to the line where McGuire was on hand to finish off and score unconverted on 46 minutes to make it 19-7.
Both sides then made several mistakes and neither team could gain control as play was concentrated around the half way line and defences were strong, with Alex Ayres in particular stopping many Kettering attacks with some powerful tackling.
But Elks did finally work their way into the Kettering 22 and a line-out was taken by Fowkes and driven towards the line where Adam Corcoran broke off the back of the maul and used his power to force his way over on 66 minutes, the conversion missed to make it 24-7.
Kettering were quick to respond and worked the ball well down the blindside to score a converted try on 69 minutes to make it 24-14, added to shortly afterwards by a penalty and three more points, but Ilkeston held on for victory.
Man-of-the-match - Alex Ayres.