Ilkeston led the match for most of the game but ultimately could not hold on as Kettering scored twice in the last six minutes to win 24-15 at the Stute on Saturday.
Elks began well and after Kettering had cleared from a scrum, Ilkeston came back at them through Jake Lamb, the ball was recycled and Adam Corcoran drove hard into the opposition 22. Matt Watkins continued the drive and fed Jono Falls, the move broke down but Kettering were offside and Falls stuck the penalty well to give the Elks the lead 3-0 after 14 minutes.
The lead was extended nine minutes later as Watkins caught Kettering in possession and stripped the ball from the attacker before sprinting clear to score under the posts, Falls adding the extras to make it 10-0 to Ilkeston after 23 minutes.
Kettering were struggling to make ground uphill into the wind but soon counter-attacked and recycled well. They moved the ball left and found space to score on 38 minutess, the conversion well struck to close the gap to 10-7 which is how it stayed until half-time.
Kettering now had the slope and wind chasing to help them chase the deficit but it was Ilkeston who would stretch it on 44 minutes.
Adam Corcoran pounced on a loose ball and attacked but Kettering were penalised at the ruck and Elks took a quick tap through Alex Ayres. The ball was recycled and the forwards drove over the line with Matt McGuire emerging with the crucial touchdown, the extras missed but Elks now leading 15-7.
The visitors’ fightback began on 58 minutes and would eventually see them turn the match around to take the victory.
Elks had an attack on half way but a mix up in midfield saw the ball fall loose. Kettering were first to it and ran in at the corner to score, the extras missed making it 15-12.
The game was evenly poised entering the final minutes but the Elks scrum was strong and forced another penalty from Kettering.
Jake Lamb cleared but only ten metres into the strong wind. Simon Bennett took the line-out and the ball moved into midfield but knocked on, Kettering counter-attacked and Elks were penalised for a deliberate knock on, Angus Hulme received a yellow card for the offence.
With the extra man,Kettering kicked to the corner and after they caught the line-out they drove forward and scored after 74 minutes, the difficult conversion also added to give Kettering the lead by 19 points to 15.
Kettering were finishing strongly downhill and keeping possession well, denying Elks a chance to attack.
They attacked down the right and recycled through several phases before scoring in the final minute, the conversion missed leaving the final score at 24-15 in Kettering’s favour.
Elks were unlucky to come away with nothing after leading for most of the game, but crucially not enough points were scored in the first-half when well on top.
With many players playing out of position the Elks battled hard with Adam Corcoran and Falls noticeable, but man of the match went to Jake Lamb who made numerous breaks and kept hold of possession well under strong pressure.
There is no league rugby this coming weekend due to the Easter holiday so the next action is away at Mansfield on April 11, kick-off 3pm.