Matlock stutter but secure their victory

Ben Neville, Matlock RFC
Ben Neville, Matlock RFC

Coalville 29 Matlock 1sts 33

MATLOCK arrived at Coalville in confident mood on Saturday following last week’s comprehensive victory but still sober in the knowledge that both games last season against these opponents were very close.

The Matlock squad saw one change from the Nuneaton game. With Dan Hooton unavailable, Jim Mackrell started in the centre and Tom Hooton stepped up to the bench.

Matlock had the advantage of a strong wind in the first half and Young made the most of it to push Coalville deep into their own territory.

Only three minutes had gone when the early pack pressure resulted in a penalty kick, converted by Young. From the restart, Matlock pressed again with the pack totally dominant in the scrum.

Young again found a telling touch and from the lineout, Matlock made a series of drives which saw Jonny Bunting held up over the line and Matlock were awarded a five-metre scrum from which Coalville were bulldozed over for Shooter to touch down. Young converted superbly.

At this point, Matlock were in complete control but were frustrated as several opportunities went begging. On 15 minutes and against the run of play, Coalville capitalised on some slack defensive play to score a try in the corner.

Matlock responded immediately with a searing break by Neville which took play into Coalville’s 22, leading to a series of pick and drive phases which ended with Young stepping smartly through the defence to touch down.

From the restart, Matlock were straight back on the attack and Young added another three points when the referee penalised Coalville for a high tackle, taking the score to 20-5. At this point, Matlock appeared to suffer an attack of complacency as some inexperience and questionable defending allowed Coalville to come back with three rather easy tries in 11 minutes, one of which was converted to give the home side an unexpected 22-20 half-time lead. To make matters worse, just before half-time Matlock also lost prop Dave Ball to a harsh yellow card.

Coach AJ Johnson addressed the team at half-time with a few harsh but much-needed home truths and asked for more intensity and tighter control. Heeding his coach’s request Tim Taylor caught the kick off and stormed into the Coalville pack, before presenting the ball.

It was then worked slowly downfield as the sinbin clock was run down. However, Matlock were still a man down when quick handling by the threequarters sent Packard scurrying over for a try.

The conversion from out wide was missed but Young made amends with a penalty on 53 minutes to give Matlock a 28-22 lead. Coalville now had the advantage of the wind at their backs and Matlock found themselves pushed back.

On 60 minutes, Coalville countered again from around Matlock’s ten-metre line and worked the ball well to create an overlap. A high tackle as the scorer crossed the line resulted in a penalty try, a yellow card for Powell and Coalville taking the lead 29-28 with the extra two points.

Down to 14 men, Matlock had to lift their efforts. They worked in a series of attacks and were rewarded on 70 minutes when the maul drove over the line for Shooter to touch down. Young narrowly missed the conversion.

Tom Hooton came off the bench and brought fresh impetus to the defensive efforts, putting in a couple of strong tackles. Despite the dominance by the forwards and the incisive running in the threequarters, the final whistle left Matlock relieved to have eked another bonus point win.

Man of the match went to the powerful Tim Taylor, pushed close by James Noble and Ben Neville.

Coach Alan Johnson was again very satisfied with the industry and fitness of the players and was pleased with the way the team handled the setback of both going behind and a man down before half time.

This Saturday’s game is at home to old friends Paviors, kicking off at 3pm.