Match report: Melbourne 24 Matlock 29

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Matlock travelled to Melbourne hoping to make a better start than in previous games where they have been a little slow out the traps and came away with a 29-24 win.

In the pack the absence of both Atkinson and Robinson saw the talented James Noble come into the squad.

A late withdrawal by Buckley due to illness saw Hooton, returning from injury, start on the wing rather than on the bench as intended.

With a strong cross wind the game could not have started worse as Matlock misread the strength of the wind from their kick off and the ball went out on the full, handing a midfield attacking scrum to the home side.

A very pumped up Melbourne took full advantage of this slack start and within a couple of minutes were on the scoreboard.

Awarded a penalty around halfway they found a good touch in the corner and scored from a well rehearsed catch and drive to take a 7-0 lead.

Matlock came back into the game and scored on 16 minutes when Fairclough scored a fine individual try, the conversion attempt was wide.

Four minutes later Matlock had the lead when Whittaker went over after good work from Fairclough and Neville created the opening, with Whittaker adding the extras.

An unsavoury stamping incident then saw the referee show the Melbourne second row a red card, however this just seemed to add more steel and resolve to the home side.

Despite that resolve Matlock had begun to show more dominance on the ball with strong forward carries particularly from Richardson and Coombes, but the usual fluency in the all round game seemed missing on occasions and possession was turned over through poor ball retention.

Matchlock extended their lead when Neville broke down the win and beat the trailing defence to take their lead to 19-7.

Melbourne closed the gap with a penalty from long range to leave Matlock leading 19-10 at the break.

Matlock took a commanding lead on 50 minutes when Richardson on the slide forced his way over for another great team try, with Whittaker again added the two.

Despite their obvious dominance at this point Matlock were unable to add to their tally as a series of penalties against them and the obvious constant offsides by Melbourne began to frustrate and affect concentration.

Whittaker then made a rare error of judgement. As a seemingly harmless cross field kick by Melbourne seemed to be heading for touch and a Matlock throw, Whittaker decided to try and keep it in play with Hooton arriving in support. However the Melbourne wing was even closer to the ball and Hooton, trying to put his body between player and ball, was extremely unfortunate to be shown a yellow card for obstruction. Melbourne kicked the resultant penalty to the corner and scored their second catch and drive to reduce the gap to 26-17.

Melbourne then scored a third try to narrow the gap further after they made the most of two quick tap penalties and an overlap on the outside.

With the scores now far too close for comfort and, with the home side smelling an unexpected opportunity, it was a time for Matlock to keep calm and grind out the game, which is exactly what they did.

By retaining possession though pick and drives a frustrated and desperate Melbourne gave away a crucial penalty which Whittaker converted leaving Matlock to play out the last few minutes for the victory.