Elks come through a tough battle at Coalville

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ILKESTON endured a tough encounter against struggling Coalville at the Memorial Ground on Saturday but ultimately prevailed after being pushed all the way.

Midlands One (East)

Coalville 15

Ilkeston 19

ILKESTON endured a tough encounter against struggling Coalville at the Memorial Ground on Saturday but ultimately prevailed after being pushed all the way.

Both sides like to play the game at pace and spread the ball wide, so the the styles produced a hugely entertaining game.

The frantic pace made passing hazardous and there were moments when the game became like bagatelle with the ball bouncing off bodies, hands and shoulders and giving ample opportunity for turnover and counter attack.

The tone of the game was set as early as the second minute when Joel Haigh took a quick tap from a line-out penalty and set Scott Rudkin on the charge. Coalville were penalised at the ruck and JJ Connolly opened the scoring with a penalty from close range.

Coalville’s response was immediate when Measures scored in the corner following a line out take and drive.

In an effort to regain the lead the Elks showed a willingness to attack form deep with a break out from Dan Mahoney, Lewis Taylor, Greg Taylor and Ben Gatehouse creating a chance only for the ball to be spilled inside the home 22 allowing Coalville to counter and requiring Pete Smith to make a try saving tackle.

Haigh and Greg Taylor next created another chance but again the final pass failed to find a support runner.

Coalville should have extended their lead when Mayne’s clever crossfield kick sent Watret racing to the corner but Greg Tayor was on hand to produce a textbook tackle to rescue the situation.

The game went end to end until the 24th minute when the Elks combined forwards and backs to sweep play the length of the field.

When Steve Quinn set up a ruck Haigh was on hand to jink through a gap, and he found Dan Taylor in support who dashed over close to the posts. Connolly’s conversion made it 5-10.

On 30 minutes Coalvile were back within a score when a mix up on the line gifted Mayne a simple shot at goal which he duly converted to reduce the arrears, which is where the score stood at halftime.

The Elks extended their lead barely one minute into the second-half when Dan Taylor was obstructed following a chip ahead and Connolly collected the points to move the lead to 8-13.

The score put a spring in the Elks’ step and they started to play with more confidence and authority.

Stephen Fowkes, Eliott Bennett and Quinn started to dominate the line out, profiting from the accurate throwing of Marc Moore.

The scrum likewise edged into a dominance with Gordon Pringle, Moore and Ben Wells lasting the pace better than their opposite numbers.

Ten minutes in a well-timed shunt drove Coalville off their scrum ball and earned a penalty which Haigh put between the posts to stretch the lead to 8-16.

A second scrum take against the head led to a Connolly double dummy which Mothercare could market and brought Quinn, Mahoney and Fowkes into the game to drive the ball forward and set up a ruck inside the 22.

Haigh provided the perfect pass which gave Connolly enough time and space to coolly drop a goal giving the Elks a 8-19 ahead with only minutes remaining.

As the game entered injury-time, Twigg combined with Richmond and Neville to create try for Argyle, and Maynes’ conversion brought the final score to 15-19.

The victory enabled the Elks to retain the fourth spot ahead of the visit of Paviors on December 3.

Saturday sees the Elks travel to Ashbourne for a Derbyshire Cup encounter.

Man of the match: JJ Connolly.