Matlock made it nine wins out of nine with a 27-3 win at Ashby on Saturday to keep the pressure on similarly unbeatable Coalville at the top of the league.
Without the services of Ben Howard and George Whittaker the back line was boosted by the return of two of last season’s regulars with Dave Hartley at fly half and Tom Hooton in the unfamiliar wing berth .
Within moments of the kick off Matlock were threatening and after Ashby were penalised for offside, Tom Morton converted a penalty for an early lead.
Minutes later Matlock were awarded a penalty in midfield. Morton found a fine touch close to the Ashby line. The catch and drive was almost perfect but again the ball was lost in the attempt to ground it. Once again the Ashby scrummage was won against the head and this time Luke Crofts picked up and powered over the line to score. Morton converted superbly from wide out taking the score to 0-10 in Matlock’s favour with 12 minutes played.
They extended the lead ten minutes later when a perfect catch and drive provided the platform for Jack Wagg to dive over in the corner. The conversion attempt was wide.
With the score now at 0-15 Matlock continued to control both territory and possession but some poor execution and some odd decisions, not just from the players, prevented them from adding to the scoreboard again before half time.
On one of Ashby’s very infrequent visits into the Matlock half on the stroke of half-time they were awarded a penalty for hands in the ruck to leave the half time score 3-15.
The second half began with a non-eventful first ten minutes. Eventually the referee brandished his first yellow card for Ashby’s hands in the ruck.
A man light, Ashby were then left with more work to do when their scrum half’s untidy pass bounced back of the fly half’s shins and was deftly picked up off his toes by Atkinson who powered over for a try. Morton added the extras to make it 3-22.
Matlock didn’t have to wait long for the bonus point try. Ashby made a rare excursion into the Matlock half by kicking for position. From the lineout the ball found its way to Crofts who powered through the Ashby defenders and took play into the Ashby half.
Good Matlock pressure forced a knock and Matlock pounced on the loose ball. Quick hands saw Hartley feed Dan Hooton who surged through the gap before passing back inside to Hartley who then fed Ben Neville in support to crash over for a great team try. Morton’s conversion attempt was just wide, and with a stale period of action following, the scoring was complete.
Next week Matlock are at home to Bridgnorth in the Intermediate Cup.