Ilkeston battle adversity to seal bonus-point success in title bid
ILKESTON had to battle against adversity to keep their Midlands One East promotion bid on track with a maximum-points victory at home to Newark.
The Elks finally saw off a tough challenge from their Nottinghamshire opponents with a crucial fourth try six minutes from time at the Stute.
And Peterborough Lions' defeat at Kettering allowed Ilkeston to climb above their rivals into second place.
They remain level on points with leaders Old Northamptonians, who are top on number of matches won.
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It was far from plain sailing for the Elks, who were without key men Adam Corcoran and Jono Falls due to unavailability.
They lost three men to injury during the course of the game, leaving some of the players to hobble over the line at the end.
"Adam Corcoran and Jono Falls were unavailable because it was a rearranged game and we then lost three key players to injury early on," said coach David Jackson.
"Steve Quinn pulled his hamstring, Greg Taylor did the same and the Jake Lamb rolled his ankle.
"So we were down to the bare bones and some of the lads had to soldier on with injuries towards the end.
"So we had a lot of adversity to deal with – players were playing out of position – but we coped really well with it."
Ilkeston led 7-0 at half-time courtesy of a 35th-minute try from prop Ben Wells following a neat chip forward from Joel Haigh.
The hosts doubled their lead soon after the break when Dan Taylor burst through from fly half.
A third try followed just before the hour but Newark battled back.
Matt Clark and half-back partner Matt Cox both touched down to reduce the deficit to 19-12.
Ilkeston, though, managed to regain their composure and Tom Pottinger, playing on the wing rather than in the pack, produced a fine finish to wrap up the points.
"Newark pushed us close and we did well to get five points, because we weren't too far away from losing the game," said Jackson.
"So we're really pleased. It was a tough day at the office – and fair play to Newark for making it difficult for us.
"The most important thing was that we won and got a bonus point. We needed that."