Matlock make heavy weather of second win of rugby union season

John Statham on the charge for Matlock during their victory at Ilkeston.
John Statham on the charge for Matlock during their victory at Ilkeston.

They made heavy weather of it, but much-changed Matlock got there in the end, securing a 22-17 victory away to Ilkeston for their second win of the new campaign.

Like their Derbyshire hosts, Matlock went into the fixture after winning one and losing one of their opening two matches in the Midlands 2 East (North) division of the National League.

And the early exchanges were closely contested as the visitors got used to the necessary changes they had to make to their starting line-up.

However, Matlock made the first breakthrough in the 15th minute when John Statham made a telling half-break, allowing George Whittaker to go over in the corner for a try that wasn’t converted.

A period of stalemate then ensued, with both sides struggling to make headway, before sloppy defence presented Ilkestion with a try to bring them level at 5-5.

Matlock suffered a further blow when Whittaker had to leave the field after getting injured three times in quick succession. But they recovered to surge into a 12-5 lead by the interval as Simon Wright touched down and James Fairclough added the extras.

The visitors, whose scrummaging was impressive throughout, also started the second half with intensity and extended their advantage to 19-5 when awarded a penalty try.

Ilkeston refused to surrender and, helped by more loose defending, they cut the deficit to 19-17 with two further tries.

But as a tense and nervy finale loomed, Matlock sealed their win three minutes from time when Tom Morton converted an all-important penalty, and then they held firm when Ilkeston kicked to the corner.

Matlock’s next match is at home to Newcastle, of Staffordshire, in the Third Round of the RFU Midlands Knockout Cup on Saturday (kick-off 3 pm).