Matlock in opening day defeat on road

James Shooter, Matlock RFC.

James Shooter, Matlock RFC.

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Old Northamptonians 29

Matlock 19

Matlock RFC 1sts began the new season in Midlands One East with a long journey to Northampton, fielding a strong team and optimistic their pre-season training would hold them in good stead.

Old Northamptonians started well. They ran through their phases well, showing more urgency to the breakdown and moving the ball quickly away from the contact area.

Their fly half was dictating the game in the first quarter as Matlock struggled to gain possession and it was only good tackling that kept them at bay.

Matlock, however, were dominant in the scrum and Ashley Statham showed his power when Matlock pushed them off their own ball.

However, Old Northamptonians kept the pressure on. From a scrum, Old Northamptonians moved the ball quickly and a couple of missed tackles in the midfield meant Old Northamptonians were first on the scoreboard to make it 5-0.

The home team seemed in control when they scored again five minutes later at 10-0. However, Matlock seemed to wake up in the second quarter.

Their forwards began competing at the breakdown, with Shooter to the fore, and a steady flow of possession started to come their way. Neville and Powell threatened a couple of times.

However, it was the forwards who crossed the line. From a driving maul, Tim Taylor muscled his way over to bring Matlock’s first score and, five minutes later, the same player scored his second from a peel round the front of a lineout and drive from his pursuing teammates.

But Matlock were caught napping and conceded a third try just before half-time to make it 15-12.

Matlock started well in the second half. A poor kick by Old Northamptonians allowed Matlock to attack down the left. Neville drew the defence and put Hooton in for a well-worked try. Young slotted over the conversion to make it 19-15 to Matlock.

The game was there for the taking but Matlock took their foot off the pedal and Old Northamptonians took control.

A series of scrums on Matlock’s line were well defended. Ball and Bunting showed their strength and experience and repelled them five times.

This perhaps tired the Matlock forwards and Old Northamptonians seemed to last the distance better in the hot sun. Matlock cleared their lines momentarily but a clever chip, chase and catch resulted in another try for Old Northamptonians

A mix-up in the midfield then gave a penalty to Old Northamptonians. It was quickly taken and allowed the full back an easy run-in to make the final score 29–19.

Matlock could have won but struggled to consistently win their own lineout ball and missed some vital tackles.

This was a typical first game of the season. Matlock have some areas to improve on but there were many encouraging signs. Special mention must be made of debutant Rob Glover, who played his first game at hooker and had an excellent match.

Peterborough visit Cromford Meadows on Saturday (3pm kick off).