Defences were on top in Bedford on Saturday but Ilkeston had enough in the tank to overcome their hosts 20-8 and maintain their excellent form.
They dropped to second in the table due to a bonus point accrued by Peterborough Lions, but they remain on course for at least a play-off spot having only lost one game so far.
The game started with neither side giving much away, Ilkeston’s line-out in particular stalling throughout and not performing to its usual efficiency.
It took 17 minutes for the first score to arrive and it went to the Elks.
After Athletic were penalised for an early push at a scrum, Joel Haigh took a quick tap and went on a mazy run before being tackled. The ball was quickly recycled to Marc Moore who showed deft hands to put Lewis Taylor in for a try which was unconverted to leave the score 0-5.
Both teams then had chances but either knock ons or good tackling kept scoring chances to a minimum.
A scrum in midfield gave the Elks the next chance to attack. Haigh made a great break and, with quick recycling, Greg Taylor was given the ball and smashed his way past two defenders to score on 34 minutes.
This was converted to give the Elks a 12-point lead.
Bedford came back strongly and despite a great turnover by Ben Wells in midfield, continued pressure resulted in a penalty within range of the posts, successfully kicked on 38 minutes to make it 3-12.
Haigh then kicked an easy three points after Bedford were again guilty of being offside, making it 3-15 at half-time.
Bedford started the second half strongly and Ilkeston had Moore sin-binned for a ruck infringement on 50 minutes.
Bedford quickly took advantage of the extra man and from the resulting line-out caught and drove well to force their way over on 52 minutes for an unconverted try to make it 8-15.
The next ten minutes were hard work for the Elks with a man fewer and Bedford gave a stern test.
However the defence stood strong and after Moore had returned they made the game safe.
The ball was knocked on just outside the Bedford 22, and from the resulting scrum the ball was taken against the head and worked down the blind side, where quick hands and good support put Greg Taylor in for his second try which was unconverted but which sealed the victory.
This was a fine performance against a strong Bedford side,.
The Elks defence was solid throughout and from many fine performances the man of the match went to Matt Watkins.
The next game is Matlock at home this Saturday (27th) with a past players lunch before the 3pm kick off.