Sorely lacking a cutting edge, Ilkeston failed to score a try for the second match running as they fell to a 31-3 defeat at Huntingdon in the Midlands 1 East Division of the National League.
Possession and territory counted for little in a loss that left Elks fourth from bottom in the 14-team division after five defeats from their opening eight matches of the season.
They did not deserve to lose by such a margin, with Huntingdon scoring no fewer than 19 points in the last five minutes, but they created very little and fully accepted afterwards that the league table does not lie.
The fact that the match had to be switched, after heavy rain, to the home club’s second-team pitch was no excuse either. Yes, conditions made it difficult to play running rugby, but it was the same for both sides, and both made several early errors.
Elks could have taken the lead, only for Jono Falls to miss a couple of penalties -- the first hitting a post and bouncing clear and the second falling short. Instead, after a slow start, Huntingdon came more into the game and their reliable kicker slotted them into a three-point lead in the 28th minute.
Ilkeston responded with their best chance of the match after a mazy run by Tom Pottinger, who beat four defenders before being halted short of the line. And it wasn’t long before Falls finally converted a penalty to level the scores. However, Huntingdon finished the first half strongly and after a penalty at a breakdown, they restored their lead by half-time.
The home team also made most of the early running in the second period, extending their advantage to 12-3 with a drop goal and then a penalty after a fine attack that moved the ball through several phases and really stretched the Elks defence.
The visitors did respond gamely, inspired by the dangerous Pottinger, who stood out among the backs, and by a man-of-the-match display from Sam Humphreys, who took decent line out, tackled well and made several good runs with ball in hand.
But they just couldn’t create any solid chances to score tries and, as the game entered its last five minutes, their defensive organisation fell apart. As heads dropped, they enabled Huntingdon to run in three more tries, two of which were converted.