Tough start to 2012 continues for Ilkeston

Ilkeston RUFC's Stephen Fowkes (with ball) attempts to make progress against Loughborough at The Stute on Saturday.
Ilkeston RUFC's Stephen Fowkes (with ball) attempts to make progress against Loughborough at The Stute on Saturday.
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ILKESTON fell to their second defeat in succession as mid-table side Loughborough claimed the honours at a chilly Stute on Saturday.

Midlands One (East)

Ilkeston 19

Loughborough 34

ILKESTON fell to their second defeat in succession as mid-table side Loughborough claimed the honours at a chilly Stute on Saturday.

After a winning run up to Christmas and a solid performance the previous week against Derby, the Elks’ efforts in this match fell well short of expectations.

There was a lack of crispness in all aspects of play and the visitors fully deserved their victory.

They simply had more hunger and played at a tempo that the Elks never matched except on a few isolated occasions.

Loughborough established a 0-27 lead after 30 minutes and never looked like being overhauled, even though the home side restricted them to one score in the second-half and generally dominated territorially.

A feature of recent games, poor kicking out of hand, gifted Loughborough an early score after only five minutes.

Sykes fielded a poor clearance, returned the kick and reclaimed it before feeding Rooie who scored in the corner to give them a 0-5 lead.

Lougborough added to their tally at regular intervals up to half-time with the Elks interrrupting the process on only one occasion just before the break.

Loughborough went 0-10 up after ten minutes curtesy of some questionnable defence. Line-out ball on half way was moved wide, tackles were missed and Sands galloped into the corner.

Five minutes later missed tackles again caused the damage. York picked from a scrum inside the Elks half, broke tackles and fed the ball wide.

Slick hands and numbers in support kept the ball alive and Brown finished for a try converted by Sykes to stretch the lead to 0-17.

A poor kick, lack of chase and missed tackles then allowed Loughborough to counter and win a penalty on 20 minutes with which Sykes made it 0-20.

Worse was to come ten minutes later as the Elks struggled to fight their way back into the game. Jake Lamb’s pass was perfectly judged by Buckley who intercepted and raced clear unapposed to make it 0-27.

Waking from their stupor, Joel Haigh and Ben Gatehouse took play into the Loughborough half and earned a penalty which was put into the corner. Stephen Fowkes secured the line out and the forwards rumbled over the line for Siomn Bennett to claim the try.

Lamb’s conversion reduced the arrears to 7-27 as half-time approached.

With chanegs made the Elks gave a much more competent second-half performance.

The idea that the game could be salvaged came barely two minutes into the half.

A line-out inside the visitors’ 22 again provided the ball. The forwards drove the ball on and fed Gatehouse in midfield, whose strength took him through tackles to score between the posts. Lamb added the extras to give the Elks hope at 14-27.

Marc Moore and the impressive youngster Josh Meakin popped up all over the park as ball carriers and both as front rowers also conjoured a strike against the head which should have produced greater reward.

Twenty minutes into the half the deficit was reduced to 19-27 when a wayward kick was fielded by Haigh who fed Greg Taylor infield. He set off on a trademark run and linked with Meakin who set up a ruck inside the Loughborough 22.

For once it was quickly won and a deft touch by Haigh and good hands from Fowkes and Eliott Gwynne put Greg Taylor into the corner to make for an interesting last 15 minutes.

That was, however, as close as the Elks got as despite the pressure exerted they could not breach a determined Loughborough defence who sensed a historic victory.

The visitors deservedly had the last say when Buckley scored close to the posts and Sykes converted to make the score 19-34 with two minutes left.

Classic Drinks man-of-the-match: Marc Moore.