After two excellent victories on the road, Matlock were brought down to earth with a bump at home by local rivals Ashbourne in Midlands 2 East (North).
The visitors disrupted the home lineout well to claim a 25-20 victory
Uncharacteristic poor defence allowed Ashbourne to claim two early simple scores and one conversion.
Matlock began to work themselves back into the game, but were guilty of needlessly forcing the play.
In the 20th minute Matlock were rewarded for an improvement with a try after a long period of pressure on the Ashbourne line.
Tom Wright touched down, but Tom Morton’s conversion attempt went wide.
Matlock worked themselves into excellent attacking lineout positions, only to be turned over, and further first-half scoring opportunities were stolen from them.
They also gave away unnecessary penalties for being in front of the kicker and picking the ball up in an offside position.
Ashbourne extended their lead to 15-5 before half-time when Matlock’s backs were penalised for encroaching within the five metres at a retreating scrum.
Matlock worked hard to regain control at the start of the second period and Morton kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit to seven points.
However, the hosts then conceded a penalty for a high tackle and Ashbourne extended their lead to 18-8.
Matlock continued to press and began to take quick taps with Dan Hooton, Luke Howard and John Statham all working hard.
In the 65th minute the hosts claimed a converted try. Charlie Jackson burst through a gap, drew the last man and passed to James Harrod, who charged over the line from 30 metres out to make it 15-18.
However, luck was not on their side when Ashbourne attacked from a turnover ball and chipped ahead.
The winger appeared to be in front of the kicker but, unlike Matlock in the first half, he was allowed to carry on and raced away for a crucial score, which was converted.
The home side hit back again with another hard-earned try in the corner through captain Tim Taylor.
With the score at 20-25 and Morton off the field, Matlock decided to forego the conversion attempt to make one last effort to snatch another try from the restart, but Ashbourne kicked the ball off the field to claim an unexpected but deserved victory.
Matlock’s next game is at Coalville on Saturday.
Matlock: Wright T, Statham J, Statham A, Atkinson C, Harrod J, Taylor T, Jackson C, Wright S, Morton T, Young J, Howard L, Hartley D, Hooton D, Gunter M, Powell A. Bench: Twyford A, Cruttenden T, Allen M.