Matlock RFC 18
matlock suffered their second consecutive local derby defeat in Midlands One East on Saturday, in a game where they went behind almost from the off.
Matlock kicked off and hadn’t got their hands on the ball before Ilkeston had crossed for the first score.
The Elks worked through the phases, stretching the defence, before the scrum-half darted through to touch down under the posts for a converted try.
From the restart, the same pattern continued with Matlock under siege from a rampant Elks side and, on 15 minutes, the Matlock defence was stretched again.
From a deliberate knockdown five metres out from the line, the referee awarded the home side a penalty try although there seemed no guarantee the pass would have gone to hand.
Matlock regrouped under the posts and, from the restart, began to claw their way back into the game, putting phases together and taking the game to the home side.
On 25 minutes, their hard work was rewarded with a try from captain Jack Wagg.
Awarded a penalty on their own ten-metre line, Young’s kick took play to the Elks’ 22 metre line.
Ilkeston, completely dominant in this area all afternoon, won the lineout but their attempted clearance kick was charged down by Wagg in Hodgsonesque fashion and the captain won the race for the touchdown.
The conversion was missed but Matlock at last had a foothold in the game at 14-5.
Matlock now began to get into their stride.
Centre partners Neville and Hooton had defended stoutly throughout and now began to look for opportunities to attack the Elks.
As half-time approached, Matlock were camped on the Ilkeston line and looking for a crucial score.
Inevitably, Ilkeston transgressed and were penalised for slowing down the ruck ball in their desperate attempts to stop Matlock from crossing the line, albeit several offsides at the back foot had previously gone unpunished.
Young slotted over the penalty kick, the half-time score was 14-8 and the game was on.
The second half began badly for Matlock as Taylor was sent to the sin bin for an act of self-defence and the Elks took full advantage of the extra man on 45 minutes, scoring their third try from a catch drive.
Matlock would still not lie down and, back to equal numbers with Taylor on the field, they began to strike back again.
On 56 minutes, the referee awarded another penalty to Matlock wide out on the Elks’ ten metre line.
Young’s superb strike saw the ball sail through the uprights, taking the score to 19-11 and a few concerned faces could be seen amongst the home side support as Matlock were creating opportunities.
Matlock’s midfield were putting more pressure on the Ilkeston backline and when a pass was intercepted by Packard 20 metres in his own half, there was no chance of the flyer being caught as he raced away to touch down under the Ilkeston posts.
Young converted and, with the score at 19-18, the home side supporters were now concerned.
However, their fears and Matlock’s hopes would soon evaporate as the Elks scored a converted try from another catch and drive, followed soon after by an unconverted try in the corner as Matlock ran out of defenders.
With the game lost, Matlock continued to battle manfully but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to win games without a reasonable percentage of the lineout ball.
With the last play, the home side predictably had the final say with a well-worked converted try under the posts.
Beaten by a better side on the day, Matlock must reflect on the game and work on specific areas to combat opposing team’s strengths.
Lineout strategy and defensive alignment in open play will get particular attention at training this week.
That being said, the club should be proud that Matlock is one of the very few squads in this league made up of entirely homegrown players, which is a testament to the spirit, attitude and talent within the squad.
There were a number of standout performances on the day.
Man of the match went to full back Dave Hartley, with James Cooper close on his heels.
This weekend, Matlock will be hoping to return to winning ways at home against Leighton Buzzard.
Kick off at Cromford Meadows is at 3pm.