Matlock RFC 1sts 37
Matlock welcomed Loughborough to a sunny Cromford Meadows with the home team looking for their fifth bonus point win on the bounce.
In contrast the visitors, lying second bottom in the league, were looking to cause a similar upset to last year in the away fixture, when Matlock had lost a game they had seemed to be in control of at half-time.
From the kick off, the home side made a positive start and were soon camped deep within the Loughborough half. In the first ten minutes scoring opportunities failed to be converted into points due to both poor execution in attack at the crucial moment and some resolute and, at times, desperate defence.
The home side were unlucky not to open their account when Chris Young cross kicked for Packard but the ball bounced back cruelly into the legs of the winger and ran harmlessly into touch. Three minutes later, Matlock’s early dominance was rewarded with a penalty converted by Chris Young. From the kick-off Matlock were awarded another penalty on halfway for a Loughborough player going over the top at the ruck.
Young converted it brilliantly and Matlock were six points up, yet this was scant reward for their early dominance.
Matlock continued to apply pressure but a lack of control and patience close to the line saw several more scoring chances fail to be converted. On 17 minutes Matlock were on the attack again when a pass was intercepted by the Loughborough flanker who raced the length of the pitch unopposed to score the first try of the match, much against the run of play.
The conversion was successful and a frustrated Matlock found themselves 7-6 down. Matlock regrouped and again took the game to their opponents, who were now buoyed and enthused by their unexpected score yet despite continuing to dominate possession and territory the home side still couldn’t get over the Loughborough line.
On the half hour, the home side were rocked again by another Loughborough when their hooker had a free run-in from 35 yards out from a lineout.
As the conversion was missed Matlock regrouped with the score standing at 12-6. Matlock were straight back on the attack but frustration was mounting as scoring opportunities were wasted. With the half time whistle approaching, Matlock made a change, bringing on James Young for Tom Hooton.
Within two minutes of being on the pitch, Young touched down for Matlock’s first try after another period of Matlock being camped on the Loughborough line. The conversion was missed but Matlock confidence began to show again. Matlock were applying pressure when the whistle went with the score 12-11.
The second half began much the same as the first with Matlock claiming the lion’s share of possession and territory but being unable to convert it into points.
Their efforts were hampered on 50 minutes when they were reduced to 14 men when Robinson was sent to the sin bin for overzealous rucking.
Matlock continued to press the Loughborough line and were finally rewarded on 60 minutes when James Cooper crashed over the line for a try, converted by Young, and the lead was rightfully restored. Robinson returned to bring Matlock up to full strength but this lasted only three minutes before Dan Hooton was sent to the bin.
Matlock increased their lead. The ball was moved quickly to Powell, who scythed through the Loughborough defence for his first try of the campaign.
Young converted and Matlock were 25-12 ahead. Five minutes later Matlock’s dominance was rewarded with the bonus point try. Dan Hooton took a crash ball up towards the Loughborough posts, the ball was recycled quickly and quick hands saw George Whittaker dive over in the corner. Young again converted.
Matlock were not finished and scored again just before the whistle when crisp handling and a miss move saw Packard race though before drawing the last defender and feeding Powell for a free run in. The final whistle went with the score 37-12.
The Harvey’s Bar Man of the Match Award went to Tim Taylor for a tenacious performance in the second row.
This Saturday, Matlock travel to leaders Ilkeston. Kick off is at 3pm
Also on October 27, the rugby club is holding a Casino Night at the Cromford Meadows clubhouse, with doors open at 7pm. Tickets are available from Rachel on 07868041705 (after 6pm) or Ben on 07775726575 for £10, which includes a glass of bubbly and a buffet.
Come along and support your club.