Elks unconvincing but still manage win

Ilkeston RUFC's Joel Haigh scored two of his side's six tries during the win over Loughborough.
Ilkeston RUFC's Joel Haigh scored two of his side's six tries during the win over Loughborough.
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Saturday, September 24

Midlands One (East)

Loughborough 32

Ilkeston 41

by Sean Ryan

ILKESTON player-coach Scott Rudkin admitted his side produced a below-part performance despite overcoming Loughborough on Saturday.

The bonus-point victory was the Elks’ third win out of four this campaign, but despite them running in six tries they were never totally convincing as they conceded four and seemed reluctant to tackle.

Rudkin said: “We did not play well but we won. It’s frustrating that after we started so well we let our standards slip, lost our patterns and allowed Loughborough back into the game, but I’ll take winning ugly every time over loosing pretty.”

Some of the Elks’ lack of form could be blamed on the growing injury list with Steve Fowkes and Ryan Mills missing from this game, adding to the already sizeable roll of absentees.

The Elks made the perfect start when JJ Connolly profited from good approach work by Graham Chenoweth, Jake Lamb and Joel Haigh to dummy his way over with only aminute gone. He converted his own try to give the visitors a 0-7 lead.

Dan Taylor, making his first appearance of the season, stretched the lead to 0-14 when Simon Bennett’s line-out take was moved to Ben Gatehouse whose offload in the tackle gave Taylor the space to crash over.

Any thoughts Loughborough would lay down were dispelled when they reduced the arrears to 7-14 after a line-out drive was collapsed and the referee awarded a penalty try which Locke converted.

As the Elks entered sleep mode a comedy of errors close to their own line allowed Sounds to pounce on a bobbling ball and score for the hosts. Locke again converted to make it 14-14.

The visitors’ response was instant. Lewis Taylor, Adam Corcoran and Rudkin took play deep into the home 22. Adam Stoker won the line-out, Gordon Pringle and Chris Clarke took the ball on to set up a ruck, and Haigh picked up and danced his way through a throng of defenders for the first of his two tries.

Connolly converted to reclaim the lead at 14-21.

Then, with the half closing, Pete Smith scored in the corner for the Elks when his pace allowed him to claim his own chip ahead and dive over.

Loughborough had the last act when Locke slotted a penalty after a line-out infringement leaving it 17-26 at half time.

The home side had the better start to the second-half and were on the scoresheet within minutes when missed tackles allowed the centre to score wide out.

With a slender two-point lead at 24-26 the Elks’ task was made more difficult when Chenoweth was yellow carded and Clarke was forced to retire to be replaced by Craig Charlton.

Despite being a man down the Elks increased their lead when Bennett burst through a forest of tacklers for a try converted by Connolly.

Ilkeston then stretched the lead to 24-38 when, as the home side attacked from a five-metre scrum, Haigh intercepted a loose pass and sprinted the length of the park for an uncoverted try.

Loughborough ensured a nervous last ten minutes when they claimed a try from a line out drive and Locke further reduced the lead to 32-38 with a penalty, but Ilkeston secured the game in injury-time when Haigh slotted a penalty.

Man of the match - Simon Bennett.

Ilkeston host Towcestrians at The Stute on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.