Depleted Matlock couldn’t cope with the severe stretching of their resources as they slid to a 34-14 defeat at Huntingdon and District in their latest Midlands 1 East division match in the National League.
Simon Greer’s side were affected by changes from the previous week’s win over Derby, with the pack missing the influential Nick Coombes (hand injury), prop Tom Wright also out and Tom Walden forced into early retirement because of a long-standing knee problem.
Several other players were also injured or unavailable, and although Matt Tassell was propelled back into the first team, even he succumbed to injury and had to leave the field after the first quarter with a pulled calf-muscle.
It was hardly surprising then that Matlock soon found themselves 12-0 down as they came to terms with all the changes. To their credit, they hit back with a try, fashioned by captain Dan Hooton and scored by Luke Howard, and a conversion of their own. But Huntingdon were 15-7 up when the visitors’ chances were further hampered by the sin-binning of Tim Taylor as half-time approached, apparently after a punch was thrown.
The home side duly capitalised by scoring another try, so Matlock deserved praise for refusing to buckle and reducing the arrears to 20-14 by the interval. Winger Howard, chasing as ever, kicked through and fell on the ball for a breakaway try that was again converted by Tom Morton.
In the second half, Matlock played into the strong wind but down the slope. They were hit by another injury, this time to Tom Morton, before conceding two more converted tries as they tired. At least they stuck to their game-plan and continued to show determination and spirit. Their forwards were bloodied but unbowed against as good a pack as they have faced all season.
This Saturday (2.15 pm), Matlock are on the road again when they travel to take on mid-table Ilkeston.