Elks produce stunning display to beat Paviors

Ilkeston RUFC's Stephen Fowkes (with ball) looks to make progress during his side's fine win over Paviors on Saturday.

Ilkeston RUFC's Stephen Fowkes (with ball) looks to make progress during his side's fine win over Paviors on Saturday.

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ILKESTON produced their best performance of the season so far as they comprehensively overcame third-placed Paviors at The Stute on Saturday.

Midlands One (East)

Ilkeston 55

Paviors 19

ILKESTON produced their best performance of the season so far as they comprehensively overcame third-placed Paviors at The Stute on Saturday.

The win was based on the forwards’ ability to battle for every last bit of possession, the backs’ desire to use the spaces and play at pace and a defensive effort where the ferocity of the tackling kept the visitors on the back foot.

Despite the losses of Scott Rudkin, Ben Wells and Steve Quinn early in the second-half, the re-shuffled side managed to stem any Paviors attempt at a comeback and actually looked stronger as the game progressed.

Playing with the wind and the slope the Elks were first on the scoreboard with only two minutes gone.

Adam Stoker stole a line-out and Paviors were penalised on the halfway line, and JJ Connolly made good use of the the wind to stroke the ball over from 50 metres.

The lead was shortlived when from the re-start Joel Haigh’s pass was intercepted, giving George Billam a run in to the line.

With Haigh and Connolly using the elements Paviors were forced to attack from deep. Determined defence prevented the visitors from escaping their own half and winning a scrum close to the 22, Haigh attacked the short side.

The ruck was won by Quinn and Tom McKelvey and the ball moved to Connolly. He darted through a gap, drew the full-back and fed Stoker who scored between the posts. Connolly converted to give the Elks a 10-5 lead after ten minutes.

A piece of silky running from Jono Falls could have stretched the lead but the referee deemed the ball had not been grounded.

Falls, however, was not to be denied and claimed a try on 17 minutes to advance the lead to 15-5.

A further line out steal, this time by Stephen Fowkes, brought the backs into play. Dan Taylor broke in midfield, put a long pass to his brother Lewis who took the outside line and a clever inside pass put Falls into the corner.

Falls added to his tally on 30 minutes when he slotted a penalty from just inside his own half making it 18-5.

Connolly made it 21-5 three minutes later with a penalty and quickly followed with another after Haigh was late tackled to increase the lead to 25-5.

As the half closed the Elks scored the best try of the game.

From the restart after Connolly’s penalty, McKelvey, Fowkes, Wells and Mac Moore drove the ball forward. Quick ball gave Connolly space to release the backs and interplay, showing delightful handling skills, between Lewis Taylor, Ben Gatehouse and Rudkin, put Dan Taylor in between the posts.

Connolly converted leaving it 31-5 at half-time.

Playing into the breeze and up the slope in the second-half, the Elks were required to keep the ball in hand which they did with consumate skill.

Paviors could have registered the first score of the half but Graney pulled his penalty shot wide.

Gordon Pringle claimed the re-start and set Mahoney on a typical searing run. Clinical selection of passes and expert lines of running from Connolly, Haigh, Rudkin and Gatehouse created space for Lewis Taylor to squeeze into the corner making it 36-5 with four minutes gone.

The score moved to 43 - 5 two minutes later when, from a scrum, Connolly dummied his way through the defence. His reverse pass put Dan Taylor through a gap creating a two on one.

He timed his pass to perfection and put Dan Mahoney in close to the posts. Connolly converted.

The loss of Rudkin, Quinn and Wells within a short space of time led to a reshuffle with Mahoney and Greg Taylor moving to the back row, Craig Charlton to prop and Eliott Gwynne coming in on the wing.

The changes destabilised the scrum and could have given Paviors a way back but the Elks had other ideas.

From a retreating scrum Haigh picked and attacked the short side where he found Falls. He fed the ball to Greg Taylor, changed his angle, took a return pass and crashed over in the corner.

At 48-5 and with 20 mintues left Paviors gave themselves some hope with two tries, both converted, to claw their way back to 48-19.

But with the final whistle due, McKelvey scavanged a loose ball and popped it to Connolly who dummied his way through a stretched defence and scored between the posts.

He converted his own try to leave the final score at 55-19.

This is the first time the Elks have produced their best form this season and it sets them up for the trip to second-placed Kettering this weekend.

Man-of-the-match - Dan Taylor.