Ilkeston kept the pressure on the leading pack with a welcome 36-7 victory over Market Bosworth at The Stute on Saturday.
The match was Ilkeston’s game in hand on those above them and winning it means they move to within two points of new leaders - and next opponents - Bedford, with just four points spanning the top four sides.
Bosworth kicked off with the slope and were soon on the attack after a soft penalty gave them good field position.
From the ensuing line out they caught and drove towards the Elks line and went over to score on four minutes. This was well converted to give them a 7-0 lead.
Elks looked to respond quickly but Bosworth largely held them at bay, with unforced errors costing the home side dear.
The breakthrough finally came on 25 minutes when Joel Haigh made a good break before feeding Ryan Mills who beat two defenders and slipped the ball to Greg Taylor to score under the posts, Haigh adding the conversion to level the scores at 7-7.
Elks grew with confidence and were soon on the attack with Haigh breaking blind to feed Jono Falls who beat his man and fed Hugh Smith to sprint clear and score on 27 minutes, the conversion missed leaving the score 12-7.
Bosworth looked to keep things tight in the forwards with a series of good drives but the Elks defence stood firm.
Ilkeston extended their lead when a line-out was won well by Steve Quinn and Haigh launched another attack. The Elks went through several phases and retained the ball well, Quinn then breaking through the line and sprinting clear from the 22 to score on 40 minutes.
Haigh missed the conversion to leave it 17-7 at half-time.
It was soon 22-7 early in the second-half as Falls timed his run perfectly into the line to collect the ball and score on 48 minutes, the conversion again missed.
Bosworth were now struggling to clear their lines and Jonathan Down was then fed from a ruck and made a great break, beating two defenders and slipping a great pass to Falls to score on 60 minutes, Haigh converting to make it 29-7.
Elks continued to dominate and scored again when Haigh and Adam Corcoran linked well from a scrum and the ball was moved right for Dan Mahoney to find a gap and score on 75 minutes. Haigh added the extras to make it 36-7 and round off the scoring.
This was a good response from the team following the previous week’s poor result.
Haigh, Quinn and Greg Taylor all had excellent games but Corcoran got the nod for man-of-the-match with some great play in attack and some hard graft in defence.
Table-topping Bedford are next to visit the Stute this Saturday (16th), 2.15pm kick-off.