It’s a perfect start to the new campaign

Matlock v Nuneaton
Matlock v Nuneaton

Matlock RFC 1sts 66

Nuneaton Old Edwardians 9

Matlock’s first game of the Midlands One East season saw them welcome Nuneaton Old Edwardians, something of an unknown quantity having spent last season in the corresponding West One league

Conditions were perfect for open running rugby and Matlock’s mobile pack and fast paced backline did not disappoint the assembled spectators, running in ten tries.

Early exchanges gave a hint of things to come when Chris Young kicked long downfield for Packard to chase. Nuneaton just managed to kick the ball dead.

Matlock were looking by far the more dangerous side with ball in hand. With Young orchestrating the attacks, the backs began to create openings as good handling skills, coupled with pace and great support play, stretched the visitors time and again.

The first score came after 15 minutes when fine inter-passing between the backs saw Ben Neville stopped just short before popping a pass for Nick Coombes to collect and crash over in the corner. The conversion was missed.

From the restart, Nuneaton mounted an attack and were awarded a penalty, converted to make the score 5-3.

Matlock continued to press as tries came in quick succession before half-time from Powell and Neville with Powell adding his second following Hooton’s inside break. All were converted by Young.

Nuneaton added another penalty to leave the half-time score at 26-6.

The second half started much as the first with Matlock in control.

Against the run of play, Nuneaton added another penalty, which appeared to reenergise the Matlock effort. James Noble, who was outstanding throughout, rose majestically to gain possession from the restart and Matlock were on the attack again.

A Nuneaton hand in the ruck gave the home side a kickable penalty opportunity which wasn’t taken, with Matlock choosing to go for a catch and drive.

Frustratingly, the lineout was lost and Matlock found themselves back in their own half but Matlock’s defence had been strong throughout with Nuneaton being unable to breach it. Matlock’s superior fitness was also beginning to tell and Coombes broke through on halfway and raced away to score under the posts. Young added the extras.

The last ten minutes became something of a rout with Matlock scoring five more tries. Number eight Shooter galloped over from 22 metres out and Young added the conversion.

Richardson, Whittaker and Mackrell all came off the bench to add fresh impetus to Matlock’s flowing rugby and quick scores followed with Powell and Neville both grabbing a brace before the final whistle. Morton added three conversions.

The final whistle saw Matlock thoroughly deserving their 66-9 victory.

This was a superb performance with several standout performances on the day but Nick Coombes was chosen as man of the match for his all-round contribution, just putting him ahead of fellow try scorers Ben Neville and Alex Powell. Despite the convincing scoreline, the squad won’t be getting carried away and coach Alan Johnson will have identified a few areas to work on ahead of Saturday’s tough away fixture at Coalville (3pm kick off).

On a ‘Super Saturday’ when all three teams were at home, the 3rds, with their mix of youth and experience, had an excellent 29-0 over Melbourne while perhaps the most notable result was the narrow defeat the 2nds suffered at the hands of a traditionally strong Mansfield outfit. A closely fought encounter throughout found Matlock leading 18-17 with ten minutes to go but they couldn’t quite hold out as two late scores gave a relieved Mansfield a narrow 27-23 victory. Try scorers were captain for the day Tom Hooton (two), Rob Goodall and Simon Wright.

Coach Alan Johnson was delighted with the day’s events and said: “It was a fantastic day and to have all three teams at home made it extra special. The 1st and 3rd teams had great wins and the 2nd team’s gutsy performance against a powerful Mansfield side was probably the most rewarding result of the day, in terms of measuring the squad’s improvement, work ethic and attitude. It was a great start to what I hope will be a very successful season.”