Midlands Three Promotion Play-Off Matlock RFC 1st XV 25 Stewarts and Lloyds 10
MATLOCK secured promotion to Midlands League Two with a commanding play-off win to cap a terrific season for the Cromford Meadows side.
But it was visitors Stewarts and Lloyds, from Northamptonshire, who made all the early running as Matlock appeared decidedly nervous.
Two defensive errors in the opening 15 minutes saw the Corby side cross for two unconverted tries and Matlock's supporters were left wondering whether the home team were going to fail at the same stage as last season, when they were defeated at Peterborough.
However, Matlock soon started to take control of the match, with David Hartley's promptings from fly-half putting the home team in the right positions on the pitch.
As the half wore on, it was a case of when, rather than if Matlock were going to score.
Sure enough, in the 28th minute, Hartley himself touched down following a neat inside dummy. Chris Young converted the try and added a penalty three minutes later to level the game.
Matlock stepped up the pressure. James Atkinson began to dominate at the front of the line-out and the backs had plenty of possession, and on the stroke of half-time it paid off.
Hartley broke down the middle again and crossed the line between the posts for his second score. With Young's simple conversion, Matlock took a 17–10 lead into the break.
With a score from either side likely to swing the match, Matlock pushed on for the decisive points. They eventually came when a ricochet from a clearance kick by Stewarts and Lloyds fell kindly into the hands of winger Alex Powell, who scorched home from the 22 to put Matlock in total command.
Young had another chance late on to rub salt into the visitors' wounds with his second penalty of the afternoon and he put the seal on a tremendous win.
At the sound of the final whistle, Matlock were jubilant, as an excellent all-round, controlled performance saw them home to a comfortable victory in the end. It was thoroughly well-deserved and they now face a real opportunity to test themselves at a higher level next season.