Matlock 24 Ilkeston 31
The Elks travelled to Matlock for a league and cup double header on Saturday knowing a victory would lift them up the table and also put them in the NLD cup semi finals.
They got off to a flying start with the forwards making holes in the defence and the backs finishing things off. Greg Taylor was first to score after four minutes with Jono Falls converting.
Matlock then kicked poorly out of defence and Falls returned well, moving the ball left to find Jake Heath in space. He rounded the last defender and scored after 13 minutes, converted again by Falls.
It was all Elks as they dominated territory and possession. From an Elks’ scrum, the ball was moved to Alex Ayres who made a 30-metre break before feeding Dan Taylor to score on 18 minutes, converted by Falls to give Elks a healthy lead at 21-0.
Matlock then had their first real attack with a lineout in the Elks 22. The ball was stolen by Stephen Fowkes and the Elks counterattacked. Matlock were caught off side and Falls slotted the penalty to make it 24-0 after 25 minutes. Elks had all the play for the rest of the half as they went in search of the bonus point try. A few knock-ons stopped play and allowed Matlock to clear. The half-time score was 24-0 to the Elks.
Full credit to Matlock as they came out in the second half looking much more determined. They took advantage of an Elks mistake and scored in the left corner after 44 minutes.
Elks responded well and were soon in the Matlock 22, the ball was moved quickly wide but was turned over by Matlock, Elks were then penalised for off side and Greg Taylor was yellow carded by the referee on 49 minutes. Hugh Smith replaced Heath. Matlock failed to take advantage of the extra man, despite having long spells of territory. Greg Taylor returned to the field and was soon involved as he made a great break and scored after 63 minutes, converted by Falls to make it 31-5.
If the Elks thought this had sealed the game, they were wrong as Matlock staged a great comeback with full back Packard showing electric pace. They scored three tries and with two being converted it was now 31-24 as the game entered the final few minutes, Elks managed to hang on and record a much-needed victory. Although the second half was a bit sloppy from the Elks, they had done enough with a dominant first half display that showed some glimpses of last season’s confidence with some great running and ball handling.
Many good displays were on show but this week man of the match goes to Alex Ayres, who made some great line breaks and tackled well in midfield.
Next sees the visit of Old Northamptonians and the pre-match volunteers lunch. Lunch is at 12.30pm with kick off at 2.15pm.