Matlock 1sts 19
Ilkeston 1sts 11
Both teams were on a good run of form going into this crucial local derby.
Ilkeston were on the back of ten consecutive wins, including a victory at league leaders Syston, and not having conceded a try in five matches so arrived in confident mood.
Hurting from the narrow defeat at Ilkeston earlier in the season, this Matlock side was in determined mood.
Matlock welcomed Matt Tassell back at centre for his first game of the season and Luke Howard started on the wing. With the heavy conditions in mind, Matlock selected a strong forward bench.
The teams took to the pitch in front of a surprisingly large crowd. From the kick-off Matlock were in the ascendancy and battered away. Strong running up the middle by Tassell, supported by Dan Hooton and Chris Young, paved the way for wave after wave of pick-and-drive phases, followed by driving mauls.
Yet the opening score came against the run of play. On their first visit to the Matlock half, Ilkeston were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and the three points were eagerly accepted.
Matlock bounced right back, forcing a line-out close to the Ilkeston line.
A perfect catch and drive saw the pack push their opponents over for Mike Brookes to claim his first try. Young added the extras.
For the remainder of the half, it was virtually all Matlock. Ilkeston, outplayed upfront and starved of quality possession, tried to break free through their strong running backs but Matlock’s defence was resolute.
On three or more occasions, Matlock drove their opponents over the line for almost certain scores but each time the ball was adjudged to have been held up. Ilkeston had added another penalty to their tally and scored again against the run of play.
In one of their few forays into the Matlock 22, fly-half Dan Taylor spotted space out wide and kicked towards the corner for brother Greg to gather and touchdown.
Half-time came with Ilkeston leading 11-7. The second half was a similar story.
The forwards were nothing short of outstanding, adapting perfectly to the conditions and the backs were solid and reliable in both possession and defence. Matlock were rewarded for their efforts with a second try for Brookes from another driving maul.
The final score came in similar manner, Brookes again claiming the touchdown. Young added the conversion.
Matlock could sense victory. Ilkeston are not a team to lie down and went all out to save the game and created two scoring opportunities, both thwarted by superb one-on-one Tom Hooton tackles.
Next up is the rearranged match at Wellingborough.
on Saturday. Kick off is 2.15pm.