An improved performance saw Newark fall just short of a losing bonus point as they made high-flying Ilkeston work hard for a 24-12 victory.
Sheer determination takes Newark 3rds’ Russ Webb away from Michael Burke, Southwell 2nds. Newark won the game 17-13. (230213AM5-2)
Determination and an aggresive defence brought Newark to within touching distance of the bonus point after cutting back Ilkeston’s lead.
The team, which included a recall for lock Mark Staines, saw promising displays from two forwards in flanker-turned-hooker Will Naylor and flanker Max Spurr, who made his first league start.
For Naylor, it was also his first league start in the number two jersey following his decision to move from the back-row, while the defensive line was well led by centre Ed Collishaw and number eight James Price showed increasing maturity.
It took Ilkeston 35 minutes to break down Newark’s stubborn resistance and they turned round leading only 7-0 through a try and conversion.
The match swung towards Ilkeston immediately after the break when they powered into the Newark half to set up a second try and conversion.
Newark spectators feared a long second-half when Ilkeston added a third in the 59th minute, only to be encouraged by some excellent play that brought tries for scrum-half Matt Clark and his half-back partner Matt Cox.
Clark grabbed his try from some trademark sniping after a succession of pick and goes while Cox burst clear to touchdown under the posts.
Cox converted his try to put Newark in sight of a losing bonus point in the 68th minute.
But the revival was halted by Ilkeston dominating the final ten minutes, which brought a fourth try and left Newark without a point.
Bob Nashed’s men are 14 points clear of the relegation places, but need one more win to make sure of safety.
They travel to third-placed Bedford Athletic on Saturday.