Elks up to fourth after tough Nuneaton battle

Ilkeston RUFC's Jono Falls (right) attempts to escape the attention of two Nuneaton players during Saturday's clash at The Stute..

Ilkeston RUFC's Jono Falls (right) attempts to escape the attention of two Nuneaton players during Saturday's clash at The Stute..

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Ilkeston got back on track with a hard-fought victory over Nuneaton Old Edwardians at the Stute on Saturday.

Midlands One (East)

Ilkeston 31 Nuneaton Old Edwardians 22

Ilkeston got back on track with a hard-fought victory over Nuneaton Old Edwardians at the Stute on Saturday.

This was the first time the two sides had met in a league encounter and the opening exchanges were scrappy as both tried to establish a pattern.

The visitors were first to strike when poor defence around the base of a ruck allowed Jones to break and earn a penalty inside the 22 which he converted himself to create a 0-3 lead after six minutes.

The lead should have been stretched shortly afterwards when Hyslop sped clear only to be denied by a try saving tackle from Jono Falls.

The game was 20 minutes old before the Elks showed any sparkle. The scrum began to exert some pressure with Gordon Pringle, Marc Moore and Ben Wells gradually gaining the upper hand.

As a result, the quality of the ball improved giving Joel Haigh and Pete Smith more time and space to select their options.

A long miss pass from Smith allowed Falls to break but his pass to Alex Ayres was knocked back by Holes, earning the Elks a five metre scrum. Quality ball was again produced, Smith jinked through a gap and offloaded in the tackle to Dan Mahoney who touched down between the posts.

Falls converted to give the home side a 7-3 lead very much against the run of play.

The score injected life into the Elks and they began to play with more confidence, looking to move the ball wide.

Stephen Fowkes, Adam Stoker and Steve Quinn were supplying line-out ball which allowed the backs to play on the front foot.

When Stoker was forced to retire with a facial wound, Russ Garland slotted in seemlessly and ensured the supply continued.

Dan Taylor and Ben Gatehouse began to impose themselves as the half progressed and their darts through midfield gave opportunities for Fowkes, Scott Rudkin and Quinn to take up telling support positions which stretched the Nuneaton defence.

The pressure exerted was rewarded close to half time when Quinn, Falls and Smith drove play to the visitors line. The ball was quickly recycled and Dan Taylor’s perfect selection of pass put his brother Lewis into the corner giving the Elks a 12-3 lead at half-time.

With the slope and slight breeze in their favour for the second-half the Elks may have felt that the hard work had been done.

Nuneaton, however, had other -ideas and struck within three minutes of the re-start when Steele dashed through a gap to score by the posts. Jones’ conversion made it 12-10.

The Elks response was immediate. Smith and Dan Taylor created space for Ayres but Carter forced him into touch. Fowkes stole the line-out and Dan Taylor and Gatehouse set up a ruck in midfield. Haigh was on hand to distribute and his reverse pass enabled Quinn to crash over and carry the score to 17-10.

Quinn scored his second try five minutes later when Moore stole a scrum against the head allowing Quinn to pick and muscle his way over. Falls’ conversion stretched the lead to 24-10.

A second strike against the head led to Lewis Taylor’s second try. Quick thinking by Haigh fed Falls on the short side, and he made ground and linked with Taylor who sped in from half way. Falls converted from the touchline giving the Elks a 31-10 lead with only 20 minutes left.

But Nuneaton weren’t finished and pressure earned a lin- out close to the Elks line.

The ball was secured and driven forward by Jones to make it 31-17.

Mahoney and Rudkin were both yellow carded to leave Ilkeston with just 13 men for the closing stages, and they kept Nuneaton at bay until the 39th minute of the half when the superior numbers created an overlap and Holes scored in the corner to leave the final score at 31 - 22.

Man of the match - Lewis Taylor.