A first win of the season for Matlock

Matlock RFC 1sts 22

Kettering 10

Matlock welcomed their visitors to a bright and sunny Cromford Meadows on Saturday.

With both sides without a win from their opening three games and with Kettering just one point ahead of Matlock in the Midlands One East, the result of this game would have real significance, especially for the home side, looking to leapfrog their opponents and move out of the bottom three.

The Matlock side again saw changes with James Young making his first start at scrum half after injury, replacing the unlucky Tom Hooton, ruled out through illness. James Noble made a welcome return to the second row for his first start and the bench was made up of Ashley Statham, Jack Wagg and Elliott Turner.

From the kick-off, both sides made a solid start with Kettering claiming the lion’s share of the early possesion and territory. Unlike previous weeks, Matlock’s defence was much more solid and gradually Matlock began to gain more controlled possession and looked to create and utilise space out wide.

With 14 minutes gone, a promising move saw Dan Hooton break down the flank, draw the defender to send Powell away but good cover tackling by Kettering meant Powell was unable to find his support runners. Two minutes later though, Matlock claimed the first score of the game after a period of intense pressure by the home side saw the ball shipped to Henri Packard 20 yards out, and surrounded by defenders.

He used dazzling footwork to cut back inside and leave the would-be tacklers in his wake as he raced through under the posts. Chris Young converted for a 7-0 lead. The same player narrowly missed with a penalty attempt shortly after.

Kettering then mounted an attack which ended harmlessly with a 22 dropout to the home side. At this point in the game, the home crowd would have expected Young to hammer the restart as far down field as possible. Instead he opted for a quick drop out which the Kettering 13 fielded and ran back evading a couple of would-be tacklers before scoring in the corner, converted excellently to bring the score level at 7-7.

From the kick-off, Matlock were undeterred by the setback and continued in the same pattern. The confidence of the home side was visibly growing. Matlock mounted another fine attack and while there was an obvious overlap on the right, the ball wasn’t moved until the defence had reorganised.

The move was not finished and when the ball went to ground, it was tidied up by Harry Morton who offloaded to Packard, again faced with numerous defenders. With nothing else on, he chipped over the defence and his blistering pace saw him first to touch down for his second try. The conversion attempt was wide and the half-time score was 12-7.

Matlock began the second half with renewed confidence and with the forwards putting in their best display so far this season they took the game to the opposition. A great phase of pick and drives and excellent support play saw Matlock drive their way deep into the Kettering 22.

With Chris Young controlling the move, Matlock made space on the right and quick handling saw Shooter charge over the line for a try. Again, the conversion was wide but Matlock were now opening up a lead at 17-7. On 50 minutes, a long-range penalty attempt by Kettering sailed wide of the uprights and, within minutes, Matlock were nearer to making the result safe with their fourth and bonus point try.

Just inside the the opposition’s half, Ben Neville took a great line to cut back through the Kettering defence before finding Wagg in support to round the last defender and canter over for a great try.

Kettering continued to try and find ways through the resolute Matlock defence and were unlucky to be held up over the line. They did manage a long-range penalty on 70 minutes but Matlock again took control of the possession and looked certain to score another try in the final minutes when Powell made a searing break before feeding Neville but an illegal shoulder charge took him to touch.

The final whistle came with Matlock deserved winners at 22-10.

This was a much better performance by the home side who be looking to continue their season with a win away at Spalding on Saturday.

The Harveys Bar Man of the Match Award went to James Young, who put in a solid performance in his first league game of the season.

n Turn to page 27 for the thoughts of coach Alan Johnson on the win.

Forwards played a lot better from the off, we managed to get the first score too, which was the first time we’ve scored first this season and we carried on from the later stages of last week’s game and it just clicked.

Worked hard and it has started to come right. Making the right decisions.

Forwards as a unit were superb., led by James Cooper,as usual. James Noble was also back and that helped bolster the pack.

Backs had a good attitude. Attacjed well and just as importantrly they were improved in defence too. Organised and were successful in putting their game plans in operation. Did what they were supposed to do.

Feels good to get first win, Worked hard for it. Some very goosd teams in this league, think it will be muicvh harder than last year.

Next up, Spaldiong who lost 99-7 to Bedford Athletic. Presme they had a few missing because that’s like a 16-1 loss in footblal, pretty rare.

We need to be on our guard and approach it in the right way because the last thing we want is to lose to a team that conceded 90 points tyhe preiious week so I want more of the same from us rst win.