Gritty, determined and patient from a much-changed Matlock

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Matlock travelled to Kesteven with a number of changes in their starting line-up and returned with a vital 22-20 win.

Matlock produced a gritty, determined and patient performance against a very physical Kesteven side. Rory Cookman, Marcus Bolam, Harry Hunt, Tom Stokes and Ollie Beesley all equipped themselves admirably.

A full strength Matlock had enjoyed a runaway victory in the earlier home fixture against a Kesteven side ravaged by injuries so a much tougher game was expected this time around.

The game kicked off and the home side started brightly. Carrying well and running good lines they took the game to the visitors and in the early exchanges were aided by some slack first up tackles.

With only six minutes gone John Statham was shown a yellow card for knocking the ball out of the scrum halves hand. The home side made use of the numerical advantage to create space to score an unconverted try.

Moments later Matlock lost Luke Howard after he sustained a nasty cut following some scrambled defence just managed to keep Kesteven out for a second score. Dan Hooton found his intended rest cut very short as he joined the fray initially as blood substitute only to then remain involved.

Matlock began to put some phases together and on 21 minutes took the lead with a converted try when Statham crossed under the posts after a period of concerted pressure. Fairclough added the conversion.

An unfortunate collision between Morton and Powell allowed the Kesteven player a simple run into the corner for a 10-7 lead. Powell was forced to leave the field with a knee injury and a patched up Howard returned to the fray.

Howard left the field gain to have his dressing attended to and Beesley came onto the wing and Ash Statham then rejoined the fray to add his power and experience to the scrummage. Penalties were exchanged taking the score to 13-10 and then on 68 minutes after a couple of penalty decisions against the visitors Kesteven had an attacking scrum near the Matlock line and were awarded a penalty try for 20-10. A wounded and clearly angered Matlock reacted superbly and began to play some of their best rugby.

On 74 minutes a Matlock driving lineout was halted and they went into pick and drive mode. Kesteven transgressed again and were given a yellow card.

Matlock chose to scrummage and drove the scrum back over the line for Simon Wright to touch down. Fairclough added the conversion 20-17. Matlock won it when Morton made the telling break, finding Cruttenden in support who carried the ball to the Kesteven 22 before passing to Fairclough who finished off the move. FT; 22-20.