Matlock 1st XV 42
Spalding 1st XV 18
Matlock continued their recent fine run with a convincing victory over a Spalding side that had beaten them by a similar score earlier in the season.
On that occasion, Matlock had come away from Lincolnshire disappointed in the knowledge that their performance had been way below par.
But with two hard-fought away wins on the bounce going into this game, the home side was looking to reverse the result of the teams’ previous meeting.
Matlock kicked off and, despite playing against a fairly stiff breeze, it wasn’t long before they had Spalding on the back foot.
The home side’s pack showed early signs of the dominance in the setplays and with Chris Young orchestrating behind the scrum, the visitors were soon under pressure near their own line.
Young kicked for the corner from a penalty and with the lineout won, the Matlock pack drove over the line for the first score, Mike Brookes touching down. Young added the conversion.
A second try followed soon after in similar fashion, Brookes again claiming the score.
The conversion was missed but at 12-0 Matlock’s confidence was evident and with the backs cutting through a stunned opposition on several occasions, further scores were only prevented by the final pass not going to hand.
For their part, Spalding also looked dangerous on the ball and although unable to penetrate a resolute Matlock defence, they did convert a penalty through winger Phillips. Matlock were soon back on the attack and, following another catch and drive to the Spalding line, Bunting dived over but the ball was dislodged from his grasp.
At the resulting scrum, the Matlock pack put immense pressure on their opponents, earning turnover ball.
On their own put-in, Matlock drove the scrum over the Spalding line, Brookes touching down for his hat-trick. Young narrowly missed with the conversion attempt and the half-time score was 17-3.
Matlock were expecting their opponents to come out hard after the break and, despite the warning, the away side scored straight from the kick-off.
While the running and handling leading to the try was worthy of applause, the defensive lapse on Matlock’s part played a large part in the score.
Phillips converted his own try, taking the score to 17-10. The teams then swapped penalty kicks before Young added an audacious drop goal from 35 metres out to make it 23-13.
After a period of stalemate, Matlock extended their lead with two tries in as many minutes for wing Dan Hooton. The first followed a deft chip through by Hartley and Hooton won the race to touch down, despite being impeded on the way.
The second came after good turnover ball went through quick hands for Mackrell to put Hooton on the overlap to run in near the posts.
Young added the conversion, the score was now 35-13 and the win all but secured.
Spalding then lost one of their pack to the sin bin and Matlock’s final score followed with Bunting romping over the line off a driving maul. Young added the extras.
On the final play, Matlock were guilty of another defensive lapse and Spalding, who have dangerous runners in open play, took full advantage to score their second try.
The simple conversion was surprisingly missed and the final whistle went with Matlock claiming a decisive victory and a four-try bonus point.
A big test awaits next week away at league leaders Syston who, after a very strong first half to the season, have narrowly lost their last two home games. With Matlock enjoying their best period of the season, it could be an interesting encounter.
Kick off is at 2.15pm.