Relegation-threatened Market Rasen and Louth inflicted a surprise defeat on an afternoon to forget for Ilkeston in the Midlands 1 East division of the National League.
The Lincolnshire visitors began the game in the bottom four of the table, five places below the Elks. But an all-round display of desire and aggression could not be matched by the hosts, who crashed 32-3.
Elks began with the slope advantage and were first to score with a well-struck penalty from Joel Haigh in the third minute. But that was as good as it got as Rasen responded quickly with a penalty of their own and went on to dominate the match with strong defence and hard, positive running.
The visitors’ first try came via a trademark catch and drive from an attacking line out after nine minutes, and although the extras were missed, it was enough to give Rasen an 8-3 lead.
Despite playing uphill, the away side bossed possession and created an overlap for the second try after 16 minutes, which was again unconverted.
Elks did reply this time, but handling errors halted any decent moves, Jack Partington made a terrific break through the defence, only to be held up short. Rasen duly turned the ball over and counter-attacked, resulting in Ilkeston getting penalised and receiving a warning about the number of breakdown penalties they were conceding.
Again the visitors attacked from a line out and worked the ball into midfield. From there, they broke from the back of the ruck and poor defending allowed an easy run-in for a try, which was converted to increase their lead to 20-3 by the 34th minute.
Rasen were looking hungrier for the ball in all departments and only some solid defensive work prevented further scores before half-time.
Come the second period, Elks were going uphill and facing a huge mountain to climb to get back into the game. The effort was better, especially from man-of-the-match Tom Pottinger and Jake Lamb, but basic blunders halted any chances of scoring.
As Rasen counter-attacked once more. Ilkeston were penalised and marched back another ten metres for backchat. The visitors took full advantage as they kicked for the line out and again caught and drove over the line for a try.
The home team tried to hit back, but there was no team effort, just individual attempts that were easily stopped by Rasen, who finished strongly and added another try before the death.
Elks have no game over the Easter weekend but return to action at bottom-of-the-table Matlock on Saturday, April 2.