Champions! Matlock seal title with victory over Dronfield

Harry Stevenson on the charge against Dronfield. Photo by Colin Baker.
Harry Stevenson on the charge against Dronfield. Photo by Colin Baker.

Matlock are Midlands Two East (North) champions after securing a 25-7 win over Dronfield on Saturday.

The result saw the Cromford Meadows-based side return to Midlands One (East) at the first time of asking following relegation last season, with second-placed Coalville now unable to catch them despite having one game remaining.

Dronfield kicked off but Matlock took the lead almost immediately as from a scrum, Dave Hartley, Nick Coombes, Ben Neville and George Whittaker combined to set up Ben Howard who scurried over in the corner.

The conversion attempt was short but with less than a minute played Matlock were on the way.

A clearly stunned Dronfield then conceded again as Hartley’s deft kick ahead bounced straight over the full-back’s head and up into the hands of Neville who allowed himself a broad smile as he raced over the line to touch down. This time the conversion attempt was snatched wide.

With the Matlock pack in rampaging mood Dronfield were finding it very difficult to gain any kind of possession.

With only eight minutes gone Matlock scored an excellent team try with forwards and backs combining well to put Whittaker over in the corner. With the conversion attempt again wide the score was 15-0 to the visitors.

Four minutes later the referee then awarded Matlock a penalty in front of the posts which Whittaker duly converted to extend the lead to 18-0, and two minutes after that later the bonus point try came following an excellent break by Hartley who then fed Coombes in support to run over under the posts. Whittaker added the extras to make it 25-0 with only a quarter of an hour played.

Remarkably, this was to be Matlock’s last score of the match as although they remained threatening and in control for the remainder of the half a number of further scoring opportunities went begging as a mixture of complacency, white line fever, poor handling and some rather unnecessary and over complicated moves just served to break up the earlier fluency and control.

The second-half began with the bonus point win already virtually guaranteed and to all intents and purposes Matlock just had to see the game out.

Injuries to both Lewis Richardson and Luke Crofts did nothing to help Matlock’s cause and as the game wore on a series of mysterious penalty calls against the visitors gave Dronfield the position and platform to score a well-worked and converted try which was aided by some rather lazy and indifferent defence.

Matlock simply then saw the game out to the final whistle to claim a 25-7 victory and the all-important league title.