Matlock RFC under nines were in action at the recent Ilkeston Minis event in what proved to be the first taste of competitive action in a tournament format for many of them.
Matlock were handed some tough opposition in the group stage, finding themselves up against Ashbourne, Melbourne A, Paviors and Mansfield.
Matlock under nines started their rugby season in September with just five players. However, a steady trickle of new players since has seen them grow to a squad of 18 players. All of their opponents in the Ilkeston tournament, with the exception of Ashbourne, have been playing together for at least two seasons already.
Matlock battled hard against Melbourne A and Paviors but their inexperience proved a bridge too far in this early stage of their playing careers.
However, they tackled well, supported each other and all put in exceptional performances that enabled each and every player to walk off the pitch with their heads held high. Against Paviors there were two exceptional performances. Tom Pollak’s tackling was awesome throughout while Ewan Mackie pulled off one of his try saving tackles that impressed spectators.
Matlock also played a very experienced Mansfield team who were strong and had the skills of an established team. However, Matlock proved tough opposition and Matlock held Mansfield for much of the game. Mansfield did run out winners but only by a narrow margin of three tries to one. George Bowen scored an excellent try, running through three Mansfield players to touch the ball down for a very determined try.
The best indication of how far Matlock have progressed came in the match against Ashbourne. This was a more even match with teams of similar size and experience. Ashbourne had some powerful players and, combined with sound passing skills, proved a good test for Matlock.
However, Matlock have found some excellent talent in recent months. Brandon Harrison, Tom Christian and George Bowen have formed a formidable forward line-up who are hard for some of the best teams to penetrate. Harvey Graham was asked to play in an unfamiliar position of fly half and took to it like a duck to water.
Matlock defended well with some fine tackles from William Needham and the ever reliable Marcus Bayford-Brown. Matlock showed good ball skills and their pacy players such as Jack Gothard and Adam Williams challenged Ashbourne with excellent runs. However, it was the pocket rocket, Fraser Bowman, who Ashbourne could not catch. Running in two tries, Fraser’s pace is proving too much for many an adversary. Ashbourne did manage a well-deserved try through some gritty attacking work but Matlock held out for a very well-earned win by 2-1.
All players deserved the man of the match award for their performances throughout the whole tournament. But there were three players who were exceptional in Fraser Bowman, George Bowen and Brandon Harrison. Brandon has been playing rugby for just five weeks but already looks a fine rugby player. Matlock have had four new players join in recent weeks but would very much welcome new players even at this late stage of the season.
Call Dominic for more details on 07776 172717.