Matlock’s 100 per cent record stayed intact with a 16-8 win at Stamford on Saturday - but it wasn’t without its challenges.
Matlock kicked off playing up the slope and into the face of a strong breeze, but despite starting well went behind to a well-struck penalty after a visiting player was penalised at the breakdown.
Against the wind Matlock continued to play with adventure from deep but after good support and interplay took them the length of the pitch, an unecessary forced pass was intercepted and Stamford were able to break before the scrambling defence brought the attacker down.
At the breakdown a Matlock player kicked the ball through and accidentally hit a retreating team mate. A quick tap penalty and sharp handling put the winger over for an unconverted try and the home side were 8-0 ahead.
Matlock then regrouped and began to play some decent passages of rugby. The pack had total dominance in the driving mauls and the scrums but time and again the home side were not penalised for what seemed to be obvious offences.
Eventually a penalty was awarded and George Whittaker pulled back three points.
The home side then picked up a yellow card for a dangerous tackle which saw Elliott Boam having to leave the field and Scott Richardson coming off the bench.
This only added to the home side’s scrummaging problems and they remained under intense pressure, capped by a Matlock try when after a series of pick and drives by the pack and a strong carry by Dan Hooton the ball was recycled. Matt Goodall was on hand to power through and force his way over the line with two defenders hanging off him. The conversion attempt was wide but scores level at 8-8 at half-time.
The second-half was filled with moments of frustration. The forward dominance was evident but there seemed to be an anxiety throughout the team brought about by the sheer desperation to convert the clear superiority into points.
On 50 minutes Whittaker kicked another penalty to give Matlock the lead for the first time in the match and two minutes later a second try put welcome daylight between the two sides.
A Matlock line-out five metres from the Stamford line saw Adam Twyford run round on a front peel and power his way over in the corner. The conversion attempt was wide and the score stood at 16-8 in Matlock’s favour.
Matlock continued to dominate territory and possession but could not add to their tally despite coming close on several occasions, the final whistle eventually ending any Stamford hopes of a fightback and cementing Matlock’s lead at the top.
This Saturday a break in the league campaign sees Matlock travel to Walsall to play Veseyans in the Midlands Divisions Cup, kick off 2.15pm.