Matlock RFC 1sts 29
Leighton Buzzard 20
Matlock were looking to get their season back on track against relegation threatened Leighton Buzzard on Saturday.
The game itself reflected Matlock’s season. At times they played some sublime rugby while at others ill-discipline and poor decision-making made it a much closer game than it should have been.
In truth, Matlock were the better side and dominated the early exchanges, scoring four first half tries to gain a bonus point.
They started brightly and looked to move the ball away from the contact area quickly, giving the speedy back three as much time on the ball as possible. In the opening moments, Packard went close to scoring after good interplay in the three quarters, but despite this early threat, Matlock had to wait for their first score.
On the quarter hour, good work from the pack led to space being created out wide and Hartley managed to stretch out from short distance to score the afternoon’s first points. Young converted.
Buzzard hit back with a penalty goal but it didn’t take Matlock long to score again as Shooter dived over following a five-metre scrum.
While Buzzard looked threatening on occasion, Matlock were starting to edge the setpieces, had plenty of possession for the remainder of the half and tied up the bonus point when Shooter scored his second and Hooton, on as blood replacement for Neville, scored an excellent try out on the right, following superb interplay from the forwards and backs, Young exquisitely converting.
Buzzard kicked a further penalty and the sides went into the break at 22-6 in favour of the hosts.
While Buzzard had shown plenty of invention, they seemed to have met a side determined to put the last two weeks’ defeats behind them.
It wasn’t perfect from the hosts but it was a significant improvement.
The second half showed Matlock’s Jekyll and Hyde side and was a reflection on their season; they did some good things and some bad things that led to them to nearly losing a game they should have won comfortably.
Teams are always susceptible to conceding after a break, but this Matlock side is maybe the most prone to this problematic woe.
Buzzard started brightly and scored a well worked try which was neatly converted to leave them two scores adrift.
It was Buzzard who came closest to scoring when their elusive left winger seized on a dropped ball and looked certain to race away and score.
However, Neville had other ideas and pulled off the best cover tackle you are likely to see.
Packard then collected a Buzzard dropped pass and hacked ahead to score an unconverted try in the corner.
With the score at 29-13, the game looked beyond a resolute and hardworking away side.
However, on 55 minutes, an altercation at a ruck led to Tim Taylor receiving his marching orders and this loss of player led to the away side galvanising themselves.
Buzzard scored a converted try through their fly half to take them within nine points but failed to threaten again.
Matlock will be pleased with large aspects of this performance. However they will be disappointed with their second half performance. If they are to challenge at the top end, they must learn to be more consistent and reduce their penalty count.