Ilkeston entertained second placed Old Northamptonians at The Stute on Saturday and never recovered from a slow start which saw them down by 17 points, eventually losing 20-10.
The defeat was the Elks’ first at home this season and proved a big blow to their promotion hopes with them dropping to fifth in the table.
Elks began well enough with Jack Partington and Jake Lamb carrying well, this was continued by Adam Corcoran who was solid throughout the game.
ONs had the first chance for points following a high tackle but the kick was missed after five minutes, the heavy ground not helping place kicking for either side.
ONs were soon back on the attack with a series of forward drives down the left, and the ball was recycled and moved into the centre where space was found for the first score to ONs after eight mintues, extras missed making it 5-0 to the visitors.
Things were to get worse for the Elks when ONs came back strong down the hill from the kick off. Another good forward drive released quick ball and ONs created an overlap on the right for their speedy winger to score after 12 minutes, extras missed making it 10-0.
It was all ONs as they attacked again and Elks were penalised, Paul Stevenson making an early tackle without being ten metres and he was yellow carded.
Elks were again under pressure in their own 22 but some heroic defending kept ONs at bay until their scrum half found space to squeeze through after 25 minutes, this time the easy conversion was added making it 17-0.
Alex Ayres had some strong runs supported well by Stevenson, while good work on the floor by Matt Watkins turned possession over and Elks were on the attack. They pressured the ONs line and earned a five metre scrum. As they drove towards the line the ONs front row stood up in the scrum and the referee awarded a penalty try, extras added by Lamb to reduce the deficit to 17-7 after 32 minutes.
Elks had the slope in the se cond-half and were looking to close the gap which they did with a penalty following an offside in front of the posts, Lamb again slotting over the kick.
Elks had another attack but following a knock on ONs made 30 metres and were counter attacking well. Elks were offside and ONs kicked the penalty to make it 20-10 in their favour after 48 minutes.
ONs went back to the pack as they made some solid ground up the slope, another penalty pushed wide on 52 minutes.
Elks were forcing the play but basic errors were halting any real chances. ONs were keeping things tight in the heavy conditions and possession was not coming the Elks’ way, indeed another penalty was pushed wide on 68 minutes to leave the score unchanged.
Elks were trying desperately to get another score and a losing bonus point but time was running out and ONs were keeping possession well. They finished the half strongly and were camped in the Elks 22 as the full-time whistle blew.
ONs on the day fully deserved their victory which at 17-0 after 25 minutes could have been a lot worse for the Elks.
Man of the Match went to Matt McGuire whose set piece was strong and support play excellent.
This weekend sees a visit to close rivals Paviors who have been defeated twice already this season.
Kick off is 2.15pm at Burntstump.