Ilkeston claim historic win over local rivals Matlock to boost Midlands One East promotion hopes
ILKESTON boosted their Midlands One East promotion hopes with a dramatic victory over local rivals Matlock.
The Elks ended in-form Matlock's six-game winning run and celebrated their first ever league success at Cromford Meadows in the process.
The result sees Ilkeston remain second in the table, level on points with leaders Old Northamptonians, who they play this weekend.
Ilkeston had to withstand a second-half rally from the home side as they held on to claim a narrow bonus-point victory, denting Matlock's own aspirations of going up this season.
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The visitors ran in six tries – two each from Lewis Taylor and returning skipper Adam Corcoran and one each for Dan Taylor and Joel Haigh.
Haigh and Jono Falls kicked 16 points between them in penalties and conversions.
Ilkeston coach David Jackson was delighted with his side's performance.
"It's the first time Ilkeston have ever won a league game away at Matlock, so we created a little bit of history, which was nice," he said.
"They have been going extremely well in the league and beat us at home earlier in the season. So this was a really important game for us – and it was really good to get the five points.
"We played some good rugby and scored some fantastic tries but when we had to, we really dug in.
"Against good teams like Matlock, it takes a huge effort to win the game.
"We asked the lads for that and they really delivered."
There was little to choose between the sides in the opening period.
But Ilkeston made an excellent start to the second half as they blasted their way into a 41-16 lead.
It was then Matlock's turn to put their opponents under pressure, reducing the deficit to only four points before Ilkeston kicked a late penalty.
"In the first half, we played a lot of the rugby and had a lot of territory in their half and their 22," said Jackson.
"We weren't really breaking them down until Lewis Taylor scored a good try in the corner after linking up with his brothers (Dan and Greg).
"Corky (Corcoran) then scored from a maul and a pushover scrum.
"Matlock scored a good try on the counter attack and we were leading by five points the break.
"Then, in the first 10 minutes of the second half, we blew them away.
"We didn't make any mistakes, we were really clinical and the forwards and backs were linking well.
"Dan Taylor and Joel Haigh scored before Lewis Taylor got the try of the day, sidestepping a couple of tackles after the ball had been passed right down the line.
"We were 41-16 up with 30 minutes still to play.
"It wasn't that we took our foot off the gas. Credit to Matlock, they came at us really hard – they had to.
"They played some really good stuff and scored a couple of cracking tries, including one from their own 22.
"All of a sudden, it was 41-37 with five minutes to go.
"All the momentum was with them and we were worried at that point.
"But we finished them off with a late penalty.
"It was very close at the end and could have been a completely different story.
"We were disappointed we allowed them back into it but really pleased we were able to see the game out."