Ilkeston fell to their second defeat on the trot as fellow promotion hopefuls Old Northamptonians proved too strong in a 32-24 win on Saturday.
It was a much-improved performance from The Elks compared to that against Matlock the previous week, but it couldn’t produce a win and Ilkeston now sit fourth in the league.
The Elks kicked off with the slope in their favour and made much the brighter start, though they missed a kick at goal after an offside 11 minutes in.
The Elks continued to exert pressure on the hosts and this finally told following good breaks by Stephen Fowkes and Dan Taylor, and it was Steve Quinn who burst through the defence and fed Greg Taylor to score near the posts on 19 minutes, converted by Jono Falls to give Elks a 7-0 lead.
However, it was to be Greg Taylor’s last involvement in the game as he was forced off with a hamstring injury, replaced by Alex Richards.
Northamptonians came straight back at the Elks and despite having had little territory in the first 20 minutes worked the ball well in midfield to create an opening which resulted in a try under the posts on 22 minutes, levelling the scores at 7-7.
Continued Elks pressure looked like being rewarded but following a move to the right the final pass was dropped, and after the hosts cleared their lines well, a clever kick to the left was caught by their winger who went on to score an unconverted try on 37 minutes and make it 12-7.
But the scores were to be level at half-time as Ilkeston fought back, as Joel Haigh pounced on an opportunity with a great run into the 22 where he was stopped just short of the line but Jake Lamb was on hand to take the pass and score.
The second-half saw play more concentrated around half way as both teams looked to find space, but the hosts were to enjoy their best scoring spell of the match early on as a penalty and two tries suddenly saw them 27-12 ahead, one being converted.
The arrears were reduced on 73 minutes when Fowkes, Haigh and Dan Taylor helped feed Ryan Mills who crashed over to make it 27-17 but the hosts were to score again soon afterwards to leave it 32-17.
The four-try bonus point was, however, secured a minute from time when Haigh dummied the advancing defence to score, but the home side had done enough to claim the win.
Ilkeston have no game next week but face table-topping Peterborough Lions at the Stute on Saturday, November 17 with a 2.15 pm kick-off.