Frustrated Matlock suffered their third straight defeat of the new season when going down to old rivals Newark in their first home game in the Midland 1 East division.
But despite the 23-10 reverse, it was comfortably the best performance so far by a brave and spirited home side, who will surely be winning soon on this evidence.
The result could have gone either way, with Newark only snatching it with late breakaway tries. Skipper Dan Hooton again worked tirelessly throughout, while there were some solid performances on their return to the side by the likes of Chris Atkinson, James Shooter and Tom Hooton, and the stand-out player-of-the-match was Rob Glover, who made a number of strong carries.
A little more composure and patience in certain positions could have brought a different outcome, but if performances continue to improve, the results are likely to come -- hopefully starting this Saturday when the squad travel to Newbold-on-Avon, who have enjoyed an excellent start to the campaign.
After starting the league campaign with two defeats on the road, Matlock were hoping their first home game against Newark would bring about a change of
fortune, especially as the visitors were also looking for their initial victory.
From the kick-off, the teams looked very evenly matched, so much so that it took 20 minutes before the deadlock was broken. Eventually it was Newark who drew first blood, scoring an unconverted try after a driving maul.
Matlock looked to respond quickly and created some half-chances, but the ball was turned over just inside the Newark half. The visitors quickly took advantage of an overlap to score in the corner, although the conversion was again missed.
The home side re-grouped and were unlucky not to score before Newark extended their lead with a penalty in front of the posts after some unnecessary backchat to the referee. But although the score read 13-0, there was still nothing to choose between the sides, and finally Matlock’s hard work was rewarded with a score near the posts when Ben Neville made the most of a stretched defence to cut through the gap and step past a defender to touch down. Tom Morton added the extras, and then opened the second half with a penalty to reduce the deficit to 13-10.
However, other opportunities broke down and when the ball was hacked down field, Newark raced in for another try. Throwing caution to the wind, Matlock again mounted an attack, but another turnover and one missed tackle saw the Newark number eight charge the length of the field to score in the corner and put the game beyond the home side.