Matlock RFC 20
Market Rasen 13
injury-ravaged Matlock came up trumps on Saturday in this must-win fixture as a late converted try sealed the points.
Matlock began strongly with the kicking of Chris Young putting pressure on the visitors. An early opportunity to score was spurned due to a knock-on near the line and this seemed to set the mood for the majority of the game as neither side managed to establish any real control due to a catalogue of unforced errors.
Several promising moves for Matlock broke down far too easily as they failed to put more than than two or three phases together before coughing up the ball.
The only score in the first quarter was a penalty by Young after Rasen were penalised for collapsing a scrum. This was subsequently cancelled out by a penalty for the visitors.
Matlock continued to press and were rewarded with another Young penalty before Rasen were able to take advantage of the extra man to score a converted try, following a catch and drive from a lineout, giving the visitors a 10-6 half-time lead.
Alan Johnson’s half-time chat was succinct and the team took to the field for the second half, Noble coming off the bench in place of the hardworking Twyford.
Early exchanges in the second half showed signs of promise but a long-range penalty from Chris Young which fell short was the most exciting action in a very poor third quarter.
Rasen extended their lead to 13-6 from a penalty but at last Matlock began to wake up and good play, particularly from the pack, finally began to pay dividends.
Under increasing pressure, Rasen began to give away a series of penalties which saw them reduced to 14 men as the referee brandished his third yellow card to Rasen’s Dave Starling.
Matlock opted for the scrum and as Rasen collapsed one scrum after another, the referee had no choice but to award a penalty try, which Young quickly converted to bring the scores level with seven minutes to go.
Matlock started to play with adventure, intensity and purpose.
Young broke blind and offloaded inside before being taken out over the touchline by Rasen’s Chris Starling.
The referee took a dim view of the off-pitch scuffle that ensued and both players were shown a yellow card and he awarded Rasen a penalty.
Fortunately, the effort was wide and short, allowing Matlock to gather the ball.
Knowing there was precious little time left, they kept the ball alive, attacking from their own line and working through numerous phases in which Shooter and Noble in particular were outstanding, taking the attack the full length of the pitch until they were inches from the Rasen line. Rasen defended manfully but eventually the pressure told as James Young dived to touch down for a converted try to give the home side a hard-earned victory.
This game was far from a spectacle but Matlock showed great character and belief to keep faith in their ability to the end. This weekend, Matlock take a break from the league as they entertain Newark in the NLD Cup.
The club’s best wishes go to both Jonny Bunting (fractured leg) and Mark Rollinson (broken shoulder) who suffered serious injuries at Leighton Buzzard the previous week. They are wished a speedy recovery.