Matlock RUFC U15’s beat Ilkeston 24-17 in a tough contest to extend their unbeaten run to four.
Ilkeston are a very well drilled, experienced team, one which Matlock had not beaten at this age group ever.
From the off, Matlock received an immediate wake up call as an Ilkeston forward broke through a hole at the centre of the Matlock defence to open the scoring.
The wake-up call worked and Matlock started to play rugby.
From their first line outs, Matlock gained good territory, but poor handling was costing the team dear in the early stages.
After a few mistakes, Matlock started to concentrate and really take the game to Ilkeston.
A great period of passing and running ended with strong runs through the middle by Sam Ball and Harry Wyld and a good lay off to Danny McRea to even the score.
The try appeared to energise the team and only a last ditch tackle on the wing stopped Matlock from taking a lead.
Adam Harrison was having a brilliant game and making some big hits on the Ilkeston forwards. Alfie Stockel supported well and Matlock started turning over ball at most breakdowns.
However, Ilkeston were dogged in attack and another Ilkeston wing run was halted right in the corner by a try saving tackle by Sam Ball.
Olly Moloney grabbed the ball in the centre of the pitch to wrestle advantage.
Jack Gothard and Ned Tatler put in sterling tackles, establishing an opportunity for Fraser Bowman to burst through the middle of the Ilkeston defence and put Matlock in the lead with a conversion from Gothard making it 12-5.
The Matlock boys appeared energised, particularly the forwards led by George Bowen, Tom Christian and Brandon Harrison with a fantastic passage of running and passing from one side of the pitch to the other culminating in Harrisom extending the lead with an unstoppable try.
Callum Massey was having his best game at scrum half. He was bossing the forwards and ensuring the backs had a good base from which to attack. William Needham was having a fantastic game making crunching tackles which helped Matlock win good ball against the head. On the wing, George Adlington made some try saving stops also to thwart Ilkeston attacks.
The second half opened with a carbon copy of the first as the same Ilkeston forward exploited a hole to reduce Matlock’s lead to 17-10.
A good clearance kick from Sam was determinedly chased down by Harry Stephenson and from the ensuing scrum, George Bowen virtually carried an Ilkeston player 20 yards to wrest possession and demoralise the opposition.
The visitors were getting plenty of possession, without really hurting the hosts.
A typically well worked move saw the ball reach Danny to run the entire length of the wing to extend the Matlock lead once more to 24-10.
As the game entered its final period, Ilkeston narrowed the gap to 24-17.