Elks win thriller to keep their play-off hopes alive

Ilkeston's Dan Taylor goes to ground well guarded by Coalville players during Saturday's win at The Stute
Ilkeston's Dan Taylor goes to ground well guarded by Coalville players during Saturday's win at The Stute

Saturday, March 24

Midlands One (East)

Ilkeston RUFC 50

Coalville 33

On a glorious first saturday of spring Ilkeston welcomed a Coalville side desperate for points in their fight against relegation.

An open game was expected as despite their lowly position Coalville’s strength lies in their fleet footed back division.

Elks were also aware that a good performance was required if their faint play-off hopes were to be kept alive.

If the shirt-sleeved crowd were expecting a points fest they were not to be disappointed, although the coaches of both sides will have plenty to work on as a catalogue of errors helped to keep the score fizzing along.

The first score came on seven minutes as Joel Haigh robbed his opposite number following a Coalville scrum on their 22. Quick hands from Haigh found Ben Gatehouse who in turn fed Dan Taylor and his raking pass found Alex Ayres on his own for the wing to score in the corner.

JJ Connolly resumed the mantle of kicking but missed from the touchline leaving it 5-0.

The visitors were level five minutes later when from a seemingly safe position midway in their own half a loose pass from Gatehouse was intercepted by Griffin who raced through to touch down and make it 5-5.

On 20 minutes Ilkeston regained the lead when Tom McKelvey won a Coalville line out on the visitors’ 22 and a ruck was formed after Connolly was stopped in full flow. Haigh fed Steve Quinn who powered over with Connolly converting to make it 12-5.

There then followed four tries in the ten minutes leading up to half-time, three in favour of the Elks.

First the ever dominant Steve Fowkes won a line-out and fed Haigh who slipped the ball to Greg Taylor to burst through under the posts. Connolly converted.

Two minutes later another loose pass on the half way line saw Griffin again race unopposed to score for Coalville. Blackburn’s conversion took the score to 19-12.

On 35 minutes came the move of the match. Almost from the re-start, Fowkes won a bouncing ball just inside the Coalville half and off-loaded to Gatehouse who moved the ball along the backs, finally finding Lewis Taylor who sped into the corner. Connolly converted for 26-12.

With two minutes remaining the Coalville full-back attempted a long clearance which was charged down by Haigh who ran through to touch down under the posts.

Connolly added the extras for a 33-12 score at half-time.

Within five minutes of the second-half starting Elks were reduced to 14 men with Greg Taylor adjudged to have entered the loose form the side.

Coalville immediately took advantage of their superior numbers to score under the posts following a break from a five metre scrum. The conversion reduced the arrears to 33-26.

On Taylor’s return to the fray the impact was instant. Fowkes won a Coalville line-out, feeding the ball through Gatehouse to Ayres and Greg Taylor who cut inside to create room on the wing for sub Jack Townsend to recieve his pin-point pass and dart over in the corner.

The youth product’s maiden try for the first XV brought the score to 38-26.

The final ten minutes saw a further burst of tries. Coalville were penalised for a knock on and Haigh quickly released the ball to Gatehouse whose glance saw the full-back missing and his exquisite chip bounced invitingly for Dan Taylor to score his second try and bring the score to 43-26.

Within acouple of minutes Coalville were back in the mix with a breakaway try by Griffin after errant Elks passing in an innocuous midfield position. The conversion made it 43-33.

With the clock ticking the final try ofthe afternoon went to the Elks with Greg Taylor grabbing his second and Connolly converting for a final score of 50-33.

A hugely entertaining game palyed in great spirit, but as coach Craig Hammond commented: “Not one for the purists.”

The Elks travel to second-placed Paviors next Saturday in a must-win game to keep the play-off hopes alive.

Classic Drinks Man of the match - Steve Fowkes.