Matlock were involved in a thrilling encounter with county and promotion rivals Ilkeston but eventually fell just short 37-44 at Cromford Meadows on Saturday.
Ilkeston had never won a league fixture at Matlock’s home but in doing so on this occasion maintained their position as joint leaders in Midlands One East.
Matlock, however, started well and Chris Young’s early penalty put them 3-0 up, but Lewis Taylor soon went over unconverted to put the visitors in the lead.
Young kicked another penalty on ten minutes but that was mirrored by Ilkeston’s Joel Haigh not long afterwards to leave Ilkeston 8-6 up, before Ilkeston skipper Adam Corcoran notched the visitors’ second try on 28 minutes, the conversion missed to make it 13-6 to his side.
Young again found his range with another penalty on the half-hour mark after Alex Ayres had been sin-binned, and Matlock used their advantage fully to take the lead on 36 minutes as Henri Packard went over after a clever kick found space, Young adding the extras well from the left corner to make it 16-13 to Matlock.
But Ilkeston would regain the lead before the break when Corcoran again touched down, Jono Falls adding the conversion to make it 16-20 at half-time.
And that lead was soon extended in the second-half as Dan Taylor swallow-dived over on 43 minutes, Falls again converting to put Ilkeston 27-16 ahead.
Good defence kept Matlock frustrated and it was soon 34-16 to Ilkeston as Lewis Taylor added his second, converted again by Falls.
And they were far from finished, Haigh dummying the defence to score under the posts, converted by Falls, to leave the score at 16-41.
But Matlock then sprung into life and fought back strongly with 21 unanswered points.
First Ben Neville scored on the right, converted by Young, and then they added another try in the midst of a scrum, again converted by Young to make it 30-41.
The hosts then worked the ball left and Alex Powell added the next try, Young’s conversion reducing the arrears to four, 37-41.
But Ilkeston’s Falls had the final word with a late penalty after an offside and Matlock’s hard work had been in vain.