Matlock are too good for old foes Mansfield

Matlock captain James Cooper aims to make progress during the clash with Mansfield on Saturday. Photo by Colin Baker.
Matlock captain James Cooper aims to make progress during the clash with Mansfield on Saturday. Photo by Colin Baker.

Matlock 29 Mansfield 8

Matlock recovered from their opening day whitewash at Kettering to overcome old adversaries Mansfield at Cromford on Saturday.

Having suffered a defeat themselves the previous week Mansfield were also hungry for a win so a tight, hard fought game was anticipated.

The home side looked after the ball well early on and only three minutes had gone when captain James Cooper charged through the Mansfield defence, rampaged up the field and fed the supporting Charlie Jackson who in turn raced toward the try line before unselfishly passing to Henri Packard to go over under the posts.

Tom Morton added the conversion for a perfect start for the home side.

In this first half hour it was Matlock who looked most dangerous with ball in hand and contrary to the previous week’s outing the defensive effort throughout the team showed a vast improvement.

On 12 minutes Matlock increased their lead with another fine try.

Quick recycling saw Dave Hartley brilliantly pick the ball off his toes to feed Adam Twyford. He in turn passed to Packard who drew his man before passing to Luke Howard to race round under the posts from 25 metres out. Morton added the extras and Matlock were 14-0 in the lead.

Three minutes later Morton converted a penalty attempt taking the score to 17-0.

This game was far from one sided though and Mansfield also threatened on a few occasions but were thwarted by some resolute, if at times desperate, last ditch defending by the home side.

A penalty put some points on the board for the visitors, and only some heroic last ditch defence from Packard and Dan Hooton stopped a breakaway try minutes later.

It was no surprise the second half saw Mansfield start strongly and Matlock struggled to get out of their own half for any respite but they were playing with a certain calm assurance in the knowledge that they are capable of scoring at any time even from deep.

And so it proved with 60 minutes gone as Mansfield kicked over the Matlock defence toward the touchline. Packard fielded the ball, looked up and spotting space he deftly chipped the ball over the Mansfield would-be tacklers, raced forward, regathered the ball and outpaced the remaining defence to score in the corner.

The conversion was unsuccessful but the lead was now 22-3 and the victory was in sight.

Mansfield responded with a try in the corner, the conversino attempt hitting the upright, but with time running out Mansfield had no choice but to force the game and take chances.

This proved their undoing as Dan Hooton pounced on a stray pass, deliberately drove into two defenders and offloaded to Ben Neville who in turn found Hartley who ran in for the bonus point try.

Morton converted superbly from out wide and the referee blew the final whistle with the score 29-8 to Matlock.

The man-of-the-match award went to Henri Packard for a superb individual display.