Lincoln’s 1st XV suffered frustration on the road after a controversial try at Ilkeston saw them succumb to a second successive 19-17 defeat.
The visitors opened the scoring when Laurence Few took the ball on a hard line against the grain about five metres out to go over for his fifth try of the season. Richie Dixon successfully slotted over the conversion.
Ilkeston reduced the deficit with an unconverted try before Dixon kicked a penalty to give Lincoln a narrow 10-5 lead going in at the break.
The match turned on a controversial moment in the second half where what proved to be a decisive try was scored.
The referee appeared to blow his whistle and signal for an Ilkeston knock-on. The hosts then picked up the ball and went over for a try, which the referee still awarded to the bemusement of the Lincoln players.
Ilkeston crossed for their third try of the match to increase their lead to 19-10, but Lincoln refused to give up and soon cut the gap in the score to just two points.
Dixon put a grubber kick through for Kirk to collect and the Malta international ran in for a try to become Lincoln’s joint top scorer so far this season.
Dixon successfully slotted over the conversion as Lincoln continued to battle to try and turn the game around. Ilkeston held on for a narrow victory, but Lincoln still secured a losing bonus point.
The result puts Ilkeston level on points with Lincoln, who remain in sixth place in Midlands Two East (North) and above their Derbyshire opponents on points difference.
After the match Lincoln try scorer Few said: “Overall it was a dogged performance. We tried to play our game plan and just lacked execution.
“Unfortunately we didn’t take our opportunities when they came to us. It was just the final 5% that let us down.”
Lincoln’s 1st XV travel to face Bourne in the semi-final of the Lincolnshire Senior Cup on Saturday. The winners will play against either Scunthorpe’s 2nd XV or Stamford in May’s final.
Lincoln Imps XV and 3rd XV both saw their last games called off. The Imps XV return to action with a home match against Paviors on Saturday. Lincoln Ladies host Coalville on Sunday.
OTHER RESULTS Elsewhere in the county, leaders Scunthorpe remain top of the Midlands Premier despite a 28-24 defeat at Syston. Will Robinson crossed for two tries with Ollie Cole and Tom Foster grabbing one apiece. Paul Cook added two conversions.
In Midlands Two East (North) Market Rasen & Louth suffered a 34-8 defeat at Ashbourne. Will Stephens scored a try for Market Rasen, whose other points came via a penalty from Spen Holvey.
In Midlands Three East (South) Bourne’s unbeaten league run of five matches was ended by a 26-22 home defeat against Leicester Forest. Stamford beat Rushden & Higham 53-15.
Dan Turner and Tom Miles grabbed two tries apiece as Kesteven won 51-30 at Buxton. Aaron Whittaker, James Goodrich, Harry Cox and Henry Parker each scored one try. Ben Whinney added four conversions and a penalty.
Sleaford men’s 1st XV suffered a narrow 27-25 defeat at Tupton. Adam Loveday, Josh Stamp, Chris Wells and Dan Mackie scored Sleaford’s tries, with the latter adding a conversion and a penalty. Spalding beat Rolls Royce 74-14.
Tries from Rebecca Grice and Sam Olliver saw Sleaford Ladies end their league season in style with a 12-5 home win over Mellish. Nicki Eden-Smith added one conversion.
North Hykeham showed great composure as they won 24-7 away at Amber Valley in Midlands Four East (North). Richard Bevan, Michael Wainwright, Danny Brown and Rob Booth crossed for Hykeham’s tries with the latter adding two conversions.
North Hykeham host Barton & District in the semi-final of the Lincolnshire Intermediate Cup on Saturday. The winners will face Grimsby in May’s final.
Michael Baldwin and Jaron Cowern scored a try apiece as Boston suffered a 31-20 home defeat against Mellish. Matt Bray added two conversions and two penalties.
Tries from Brad Treacher and John Mansfield helped Grimsby to a 13-10 win over local rivals Cleethorpes. Cleethorpes’ Number Eight Adam Beeken crossed for a try with Harry Lightfoot adding a conversion and a penalty as the scores were locked at 10-10 at half-time.
The only points of the second half came via a penalty from Treacher which handed victory to Grimsby.
Ben Bethell scored Gainsborough’s only try in their 28-5 defeat away at league leaders East Retford. Skegness were awarded a home walkover against Nottinghamians.