Controversial last gasp try denies leaders Matlock a win

Dan Hooton scores for Matlock
Dan Hooton scores for Matlock

Matlock returned from Derbyshire with a share of the spoils, after a controversial late try robbed them of victory.

The league leaders had to settle for a 19-19 draw, in a tough but entertaining table top clash.

Matlock's George Whittaker

Matlock's George Whittaker

With both teams boasting a 100 per cent record of 10 wins out of 10 and Matlock currently top of the league by the narrowest of margins the outcome of this game had huge potential importance.

The Matlock squad again saw enforced changes.

Still without the invaluable midfield power and pace of their captain Ben Neville and also without the services of Buckley, Ritchie, Dixey and Tom Hooton the reshuffled back line saw Hartley back in at flyhalf, Whittaker move to the wing, Fairclough to fullback and Harry Morton again starting in the centre alongside Dan Hooton.

In the pack Atkinson and Crofts were both out with injury so Robinson and Coombes both made their first start after several weeks out and with so many injuries to the three

quarters the bench again contained three forwards in Bunting, Jackson and Carr.

Over recent seasons fixtures between these two teams have almost always proved to be close run affairs and in the event this game proved to be no different.

Matlock kicked into the sun and started brightly, having much the better of the opening exchanges.

With both sides trying to play the sort of rugby seen at the higher level last year it was no surprise that the collisions were hard and the contact area fiercely contested. Matlock though were controlling the early territory and possession as they began to look more threatening Coalville were pulled up twice for infringements at the ruck allowing Tom Morton to convert two penalties and with sixteen minutes gone the visitors were 6-0 ahead.

Matlock continued to look the better side until enforced changes, with both Tom Morton (head injury) and Richardson (finger in the eye) both having to leave the field simultaneously, seemed to effect the sides continuity allowing the home side to get a foothold in the game.

Although Matlock’s defence remained solid their failure on occasions to maintain possession and kick into the right parts of the field eventually gave the home side their own penalty opportunities and at half time the scores were level at 6-6.

With both Richardson and Morton able to re-join the fray Matlock again began to play with some authority.

On 50 minutes Matlock regained the lead. Hartley made a good run down the blind supported by Richardson and when the Matlock attack was halted by a high tackle the perpetrator

was shown a yellow card and Morton kicked the penalty.

The Matlock pack was dominating their counterparts in the scrum and maul giving the backs a good platform and after Dan Hooton picked a great line to cut through the defensive line the promising attack was stopped by Coalville deliberately slowing down the ball.

Morton kicked to the corner and a great catch and powerful drive saw Matlock force their way over the line for Wagg to touch down.

The conversion attempt was wide but Matlock now had a 14-6 lead.

Matlock again were forced to make changes when an injured Tom Morton again had to leave the field.

Coalville continued to probe to find ways through a resolute Matlock defence and with around 65 minutes gone they converted another penalty taking the score to 14-9.

From the restart a fired up Matlock side again took the game into the Coalville 22 following a great passage of team rugby

A series of pick and drives approaching the Coalville line finally saw Dan Hooton force his way over in the corner.

The conversion attempt was wide but with only seven minutes left Matlock held a 19-9 lead.

Coalville though refused to accept defeat and after Whittaker was sinbinned for a no arms tackle on the Coalville prop the home side mounted what seemed like the last attack. With supposedly only two minutes remaining they were awarded a penalty and they chose to kick for goal to give them a losing bonus point.

From the restart they were on the attack again but a 14 man Matlock looked to have successfully kept them out when the referee called last play and Matlock understandably kicked the ball dead.

To Matlock’s horror and Coalville’s relief rather than blow the final whistle the ref gave an attacking five metre scrum and although Matlock’s stretched defence worked valiantly the home side’s full back managed to scamper through for a converted try.

Only then did the full-time whistle bring an end to this very entertaining game.

Whilst the final result of the game and the way in which it came about was somewhat frustrating, on reflection both sides would have had good reason to be disappointed with any other outcome.