Ilkeston fell to their first defeat of the season on Saturday as Northamptonshire side Towcestrians proved too strong for the league leaders .
Results elsewhere and the bonus point gained ensured the Elks remain top of the league, but this game was one Ilkeston well and truly threw away having been 12-0 up at half-time.
That the lead was only 12 points was due largely to a solid home defence keeping the scoreline in check.
The visiting pack was dominant at the set piece and the likes of Steve Foulkes, Adam Corcoran, Simon Bennett and Matt Watkins kept probing with some hard running, and one felt it was only a matter of time before Towcester cracked and the Elks extended their lead significantly.
Despite early Towcester pressure the Elks took the lead as they won ball against the head in the scrum and the forwards drove towards the home side line allowing Joel Haigh to eventually cross under the posts for a try that Jake Lamb converted.
The Ilkeston pack continued to dominate but it wasn’t until late into the half that due reward came.
A series of scrums came about close to the home side’s line with the result being somewhat inevitable as at the third time of asking the Ilkeston pack drove Towcester back towards their line which left Corcoran with the simple task of touching down for try number two.
Ilkeston’s dominance continued during the early exchanges of the second-half. Alex Ayres was beginning to break the Towcester line on a regular basis as the Ilkeston backs were going through the gears and first Greg Taylor, then brother Lewis, Dan Mahoney and Smith were all hauled down in full flow by some desperate Towcester defending.
But taking advantage of the more open style game of the second-half resulted in some hard running by the Towcester backs and saw them score a converted try.
After an intense period with both sides battling for supremacy, the home side ran out of effective front row forwards due to injury and the set piece went unopposed, a contributing factor to the outcome of the game.
All of a sudden Towcester legs were stronger and big runners hitherto denied mobility appeared in places they hadn’t before. They were quicker to the breakdown as the uncontested scrum effectively afforded them an extra flanker and this contributed towards the Elks yielding field position and having to go through a period of desperate defending themselves.
The pressure led inevitably to a stretched defence having no answer to a Towcester overlap off the back of a quickly taken penalty that saw the home side score a converted try to take them into the lead which they held onto.