The disappointing start to the new season by Matlock continued with a 53-19 defeat at the hands of newly-promoted Newbold-on-Avon in the Midlands 1 East division.
Once again, Matlock had to ring the changes, making seven from the previous week. And the fact that they are unable to field anything like resembling a settled side is costing them dear.
Little more than a month into the new season and they have used no fewer than 36 players already, with only five making an appearance in every game.
In contrast, Newbold, who won the Midlands 2 West (South) title last term, have made an excellent start to their campaign and duly inflicted a fourth straight league defeat on Matlock, who are now one of only two sides at the foot of the table with no points.
Hopefully, the tide will turn this Saturday when they entertain Northampton Old Scouts, who have won just one of their four fixtures so far. Matlock should be boosted by the return of some of their more experienced squad members in a match that kicks off early at 2 pm because of the big World Cup game between England and Australia at Twickenham in the evening.
Despite the scoreline against Newbold, Matlock’s overall performance was not too bad against possibly the strongest and best drilled opposition they have met so far. The pack stuck manfully to the task and the backs were impressive with ball in hand. Additional plusses were the debut displays of Tom Cruttenden and U18s’ skipper Harry Boyd.
Indeed Matlock too the home side by surprise early on, scoring in the first minute through James Fairclough with a try that was converted by Tom Morton.
Newbold were quick to respond with an unconverted try out wide, only for the visitors’ three-quarters to counter almost immediately to fashion another fine try. Fairclough drew the defender and fed skipper Dan Hooton, who outpaced the last man to touch down and make the score 12-5 with only four minutes gone!
The stunned home side were behind for long, though. They used turnover ball to devastating effect, running in two more unconverted tries against a stretched defensive line and later adding a penalty to go in half-time 18-12 to the good.
With a man down, Matlock conceded further scores early in the second period. But when back to full strength, they still caused problems and scored a superb try of their own through Howard after fine work by Hooton and Charlie Jackson. They pressed for a fourth try, which would have meant a bonus point, but instead they conceded another as they finished tired.