Derby 20 Matlock 34
With only four league games left Matlock travelled to Derby in the knowledge that only a victory would do, and that’s precisely what they secured.
In their bid to fight their way out of the relegation zone the previous five games had all been tight affairs resulting in two wins and three losses and all within five-point margins.
With Derby comfortable in the runners-up spot and Matlock third from bottom and fighting for survival, the money would have been on a home win, but Matlock had other ideas.
Matlock took the game to Derby early on and were ahead thanks to an early Fairclough penalty.
Good work by the forwards then gave the backs the platform to move the ball wide. Packard was in the line from the opposite wing and took advantage of the half-open door in the Derby back line to jink past two defenders and score under the posts. Fairclough added the extras.
The lead was soon 16-0 as after the Derby fly-half was sin binned for a cynical offence, Fairclough slotted the resulting penalty.
As half-time approached the Matlock defensive line became stretched and Derby crossed out wide for their first score and a 16-5 scoreline at the break.
Derby started the second-half strongly but Matlock would score again when Packard chipped over his opposite number, won the race to re-gather the ball and sprinted away for his second try. The conversion attempt was wide.
Derby soon scored under the posts to reduce the arrears to 21-12 , then added another try in the corner which was unconverted before a penalty brought them to within one point.
Matlock were still playing some excellent rugby and again took the ball up to the Derby line, Richardson capping his man-of-the-match performance by forcing his way over for a crucial score.
Then, with barely four minutes remaining a Derby pass went to ground and Neville was first to the loose ball, flicking a neat pass to Packard who raced the length of the pitch to complete his hat-trick and put the result beyond doubt.