Matlock suffer first defeat of campaign

James Mackrell, Matlock RFC .
James Mackrell, Matlock RFC .

Kettering 27

Matlock 18

Matlock travelled to Kettering on Saturday for a fixture which has always proved a battle.

With Henri Packard missing through injury, Dan Hooton started on the wing with Goodall and the evergreen Poyser joining Gailey on the bench.

Matlock were hoping for a sharper start than the previous week but this wasn’t to be as, 15 minutes in, Matlock found themselves 14-3 down as a result of two rather fortunate but well-taken converted tries for the home side.

Kettering were playing with more intensity than the visitors, the difference being particularly noticeable in the contact area where time and again Matlock allowed themselves to be rucked off the ball.

The remainder of the half was pretty much end-to-end. Matlock started to get into the game but sloppy play and cheap turnover ball saw them pushed back deep into their own half. The only further scores before half-time were two penalties from the boot of Chris Young, intersected by a penalty for the home side. The half-time score was 17-6 to Kettering.

Coach Alan Johnson’s address at half-time concentrated on the need to establish control and momentum. An enforced change saw Poyser replace Shooter.

The second half began with Matlock looking dangerous and the try of the game came on 44 minutes when Mackrell burst through on halfway and outpaced several defenders to score a superb opportunist effort in the corner.

The home side were visibly rattled and Matlock’s confidence was growing as they began to throw the ball about, but threatening runs by Coombes, Neville and Hooton came to nothing.

Matlock’s second try came following a surge up the midfield. Kettering were penalised, James Young took a quick tap and sniped close to the line where the forwards carried it close for Bunting to pick up and dive over.

Chris Young added the extras and Matlock had edged their way in front at 18-17.

Another score at this point would have been crucial but it wouldn’t happen for Matlock on the day.

Lack of composure and failure to keep control of the ball saw more errors creep back, including trying to play out from too deep in their own half.

Further mistakes presented Kettering with two more unconverted tries and the game was lost. There were good and bad parts to this performance. The good was the attitude and ability shown to come from behind for the third week running. The bad was the failure to assert control and sort out the problems in the contact area.

In a game like this, where the side generally misfired, there weren’t many candidates for man of the match award but it went to James Young, who performed manfully under pressure.

Matlock aim to get back to winning ways this Saturday at home to Spalding (3pm).