Matlock squeeze past ONs in tough conditions

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Matlock 16

Old Northamptonians 15

Matlock enjoyed a welcome victory in the mud on Saturady as they edged out Old Northamptonians by just a point.

Following another very wet week the game was given the go ahead after an early morning pitch inspection, although there was a brief delay to the start with a heavy thunderstorm initially greeting the players as they ran out.

It was clear from the outset that it wasn’t going to be a day for the open running rugby that both sides normally display.

Instead it was going to be a battle of attrition and was always likely to be won by the smallest of margins. In the difficult conditions both sides struggled to string together phases with any real continuity and with both sets of players finding it difficult to keep hold of the ball turnovers happened with some regularity.

ONs were first to get on the score sheet with a try after 15 minutes. A missed tackle was all that was needed to gift them the opportunity to cross the line unopposed from 15 metres out.

Crucially the score was not close enough to the posts and the conversion attempt was well wide.

Matlock came back strongly from the setback and were soon in front. From a midfield scrum the ball was moved to Henri Packard on the blind side. The defence showed the pacy full-back half a gap and he was through it in a flash before drawing two defenders and firing a pass to Luke Howard who, after some tantalising juggling, gathered the ball and raced down the touchline to dive over for a great try in the corner.

Tom Morton converted from the touchline to give Matlock a 7-5 lead which they held on to through to half-time.

The second-half saw both sides continue to try and play rugby but conditions hampered their efforts. Matlock increased their lead to 10-5 with a well struck penalty by Morton but the scores were brought level by a second try for ONs after Jack Wagg had been sin-binned. The conversion attempt again was well wide.

From the kick-off Matlock eventually forced their way upfield and regained the lead through another well struck penalty from the boot of Morton.

ONs forced their way over for their third unconverted try to take a 13-15 lead with only minutes to go, but, after the visitors were then penalised for a line-out infringement, Morton stepped up and the crowd cheered in unison as the ball sailed through the uprights to give Matlock the slenderest of leads which they held on to for a hard-fought victory.

The next league game is away to Paviors on February 8, kick-off 2.15pm.