Market Rasen & Louth 10
Matlock atoned for a 70-10 hammering in Lincolnshire earlier in the season by overcoming Market Rasen & Louth in their first game of 2014.
From the kick off Matlock took immediate control with Rasen struggling to get out of their own half.
Matlock opened the scoring on ten minutes. Chris Young kicked for position and from the resulting line-out a powerful maul saw the Matlock forwards drive Rasen back over the line with Scott Robinson touching down. Young was successful with the conversion.
Matlock maintained their supremacy with strong pick and drives by the pack who were marshalled well by James Young, back in the number nine shirt.
On 20 minutes Matlock deservedly extended their lead when Chris Young deftly chipped over the Rasen defence for Dan Hooton to chip ahead and gather the ball to touch down. Young’s conversion attempt was just wide of the uprights.
The last ten minutes of the half saw Matlock under attack from a Rasen side who ran hard and strong but the well organised and committed home defence was determined to protect their lead and keep them out.
Rasen’s only scoring opportunity came from a penalty kick almost in front of the posts but the ball bounced back off the upright and Matlock cleared the danger.
The second-half was a battle of attrition in the heavy conditions yet both sides still attempted to play open rugby and created opportunities, but up until the 60 minute mark it was the home side who still created the better chances and looked most likely to score.
In fact the only addition to the scoreline at this point was a Chris Young penalty, crucially taking the home side two converted scores clear.
Even after this Matlock could have made the result safe. Howard was nearly put away down the wing but the ball squirted from his grasp and then Ben Neville made a telling break but lost his footing attempting to side step the last defender.
As the game wore on into the final 12 minutes Rasen finally managed to breach the resolute Matlock defence which still scrambled well to thwart the attack.
At the ruck Hooton appeared to go through the gate to foil the attack but the referee decided it was an offside offence and sent the Matlock man to the sin bin. From the resulting penalty Rasen recycled the ball well before forcing their way over for a try out wide. The conversion was missed.
Down to 14 men Matlock were soon back on the defence but they held out brilliantly and with two minutes remaining were back to full strength.
The momentum, however, was with Rasen and on the final whistle they managed to force their way over the line from close range. The conversion attempt was wide and the referee blew the final whistle with Matlock claiming a very hard fought victory.
League leaders Peterborough Lions visit Cromford Meadows on Saturday (11th), kick-off 2.15pm.