Last-gasp try knocks Matlock out of the cup

Ben Neville in action against Bridgnorth. Neville scored the opening try for the home side. Photo by Colin Baker.
Ben Neville in action against Bridgnorth. Neville scored the opening try for the home side. Photo by Colin Baker.

Matlock are out of the Intermediate Cup after a last minute try consigned them to a 20-14 defeat at home to Shropshire side Bridgnorth on Saturday.

Bridgnorth came armed with a 100 per cent league record like their hosts, having conceded only 49 points all season and having been knocked out in the semi-finals of this competition last year .

Something had to give and the game was a very even and balanced affair, with the visitors eventually overcoming a very spirited Matlock team.

The game started with Matlock settling into a succession of attacks, but the first score went to Bridgnorth who penetrated the Matlock 22 and after several repulsed drives for the line, the left wing was given space out wide and went over for a try in the corner – conversion missed to make it 5-0 to the visitors with ten minutes gone.

Matlock continued to press from the re-start and after interchanging passes in midfield captain Ben Neville dived over for a score under the posts, converted by Tom Morton, 7-5.

Matlock’s scrum now started to gain the upper hand in the set scrummage and the game was played for the next ten minutes in the Bridgnorth half, but Matlock pressed a little too hard and successive penalties allowed the opposition fly half to chip a penalty to put them back in the lead.

As Bridgnorth pressed, a clearance kick by fly-half James Fairclough was charged down by a Bridgnorth hand and the referee deemed the kick was charged down behind the goal line. The result was a five metre scrummage to Bridgnorth, who for once pushed Matlock backwards and went over for an unconverted try to lead 13-7.

Matlock came back at Bridgnorth in the second-half with successive forward surges interspersed with good lines cut by the backs. A 15-minute period of play ensued where the score board was not troubled but both sides tried mightily to effect a score.

With 65 minutes gone, Matlock advanced into the Bridgnorth 22 and from a knock-on, pushed the visitors pack back 25 metres with Charlie Jackson grounding for a hard earned try. Morton converted to give Matlock the lead 14-13.

This score stung Bridgnorth into even more determined effort, and after a lengthy period of Matlock possession, a weak clearance kick was fielded by Bridgnorth who set up several massive drives to the line.

Matlock clung on grimly, but with the last move of the game the resistance was at last brushed aside and Bridgnorth crossed for a try which was successfully converted.

Bridgnorth just about deserved their win in a very hard, well-fought game between two highly committed and determined sides.

Matlock’s man-of-the-match was Tom Morton.

Matlock host local rivals Bakewell Mannerians on Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm.