Matlock 3rd XV 57
Amber Valley 2nd XV 5
MATLOCK RFC’s 1st and 2nd teams weren’t in action at the weekend so attention turned the 3rds and they didn’t disappoint with this crushing victory over their local rivals.
With several old heads in Matlock’s team, the pre-match team talk was all about keeping the ball away from Amber Valley’s forwards as past contests had shown that this is where the opposition would play their game and where they had always had an advantage in the past.
But within ten minutes, it was clear that the tables had turned and Matlock were showing dominance in every area.
From the kick-off, Matlock’s pack were able to secure the ball and make good ground before releasing a new look backline that was able to outpace the opposition.
With only a few minutes on the clock, a series of rucks saw Matlock move well into Amber Valley’s 22 before Harry Morton shipped the ball wide and some slick handling by Marcus Bolam saw Matlock crash over in the corner.
Newcomer Tom Walden, playing his first senior game and only his second or third game since being sidelined for two years with a major knee injury, showed he had lost none of his touch as he kicked the conversion from close to the touchline.
Matlock’s dominance continued as the back row of Andrew Gibbs, Mark Rollinson and Rob Atkinson denied Amber Valley any real possession and turned the ball over on regular occasions to set Matlock up for three more tries before half time, all converted by Walden.
With six players on the bench, Matlock made several changes at half-time, Matt Hughes being replaced by Jack Wood, Rob Atkinson being replaced by Charlie Jackson and Andrew Gibbs being replaced by Steve Eaton in the forwards.
Steve Percival came on for first half try scorer George Whittaker in the backs.
The change of personnel had little effect on Matlock’s dominance up front as the pack managed to secure nearly every scrum by driving Amber Valley off the ball.
This dominance soon began to tell as Matlock scored several tries in quick succession.
Lewis Richardson showed that prop forwards can have pace as he made several darting runs from the kick offs to put the home side within striking distance of the try line.
As the match worked its way into the last quarter, a lapse of concentration saw Amber Valley’s scrum half make a rare break through the Matlock defensive line.
The player was brought down five metres short but good support play from Amber Valley made the most of Matlock’s complacency and allowed the Amber Valley winger to score. A difficult conversion was missed.
Coming into the last 15 minutes of the match, Amber Valley went down to 14 men after one of their backline caught a knee in the cheekbone during a tackle collision.
With Matlock’s victory already secured, Simon Greer volunteered to come off Matlock’s bench to slot in at full back for Amber Valley and restore their team to full strength.
Even with a full complement however, Amber Valley were unable to stop Matlock scoring again as Harry Morton completely miskicked off the back of a ruck, only for Dave Hopkinson to scamper round and collect the ball inches from touch before racing in from 30 metres out to score a brilliant individual try and take the Matlock’s tally for the day to a massive 55 points.
Tom Walden continued his impeccable kicking display and slotted the conversion over for a 57-point haul by Matlock.
Unfortunately, with only minutes remaining, Matlock were unable to break the 60-point barrier as a breakaway run by Lewis Richardson was prematurely ended when he was stopped in a bone crunching tackle by Simon Greer on the Amber Valley 22.
With Matlock travelling to Bakewell next week, it is hoped a similar performance can be achieved as Matlock look to win against their old rivals.