Neville magic inspires win over strugglers

Dan Hooton
Dan Hooton


Matlock 33

Spalding 23

Matlock welcomed visitors Spalding to Cromford Meadows with the home side looking to continue their fine run of form against a team having a difficult season.

Coach Alan Johnson was looking to field an unchanged side following a fine victory at Kettering but with Shooter ruled out through illness Robinson started at No 8 and James Noble joined Statham and Powell on the bench.

From the kick off Spalding made the better start but with Matlock’s defence looking solid the visitors’ only reward for a good opening spell was three points from a penalty kick on the 22.

As the game neared the end of the first quarter Matlock began to take charge upfront with strong carries from Goodall, Richardson, Taylor and Robinson providing the platform for the home side’s fleet footed three quarters to go through their paces.

The first score came after good work from the pack which saw Tim Taylor touchdown. Young added the extras. The second score followed soon after with good interplay between the forwards and backs culminating in a big drive for the line with Robinson touching down for a converted try.

The three-quarters were also enjoying their best spell of the game and several threatening attacks were unlucky not to bring scores before captain Ben Neville scored the best try of the game breaking through the Spalding midfield inside the Matlock half before stepping past two more defenders and racing way to score.

Young again added the extras. Unfortunately in making the run Neville aggravated a groin injury and had to leave the field to be replaced by Powell.

Matlock were now in complete control of every phase of the game and despite some dogged Spalding defence and a second penalty for the visitors, the home support was anticipating an overwhelming victory.

As if to emphasise this point Matlock’s dominance in the scrum was rewarded with a penalty try just before half time giving Matlock a half time lead of 28-6 and looking at another bonus point win.

Immediately after half time Matlock further extended their lead with another try following a great snipe by scrum half Tom Morton. Young was unsuccessful with the conversion attempt but Matlock’s 33-6 lead looked unassailable.

A short while after came a game changing moment when Twyford was rather unlucky to be singled out for a yellow card when it was clear that the Spalding player should also have been given 10 minutes on the bench.

Spalding kicked to the corner and although Matlock appeared to have successfully defended the catch and drive by driving back the maul almost ten metres they failed to pick up the peel off the back of the retreating maul and Spalding crossed for a converted try.

At this point and being one man down Matlock should have regrouped and played simple, conservative rugby to eat up the clock by pinning their opponents deep in their own half. However they continued to try and play an expansive game and errors and frustration crept into their game allowing Spalding to capitalise on their mistakes to score a second try.

Matlock’s defence was still keeping the Spalding attack in check and when Dan Hooton pounced to hack on a dropped pass in the middle, the fleet footed Packard was quick to react and looked certain to score when the referee left the home team and support dumfounded by adjudging the winger to be offside.

With the clock running down Matlock’s blind side defence went AWOL allowing the Spalding scrumhalf to dummy his way through for the final score. The final whistle followed soon after with Matlock recording another bonus point victory by 33-23.

Matlock will undoubtedly reflect on how a poor second half performance, and particularly some poor decision making, allowed their opponents back into a game that was easily won by half time. The team now have some injury recovery time with no first XV game next week.

Matlock’s 2nd XV also recorded a good home win 17-13 against Sheffield Tigers whilst the 3rd XV lost narrowly in their pennant game away at Ranby Prison by a score of 26-20.

Matlock 1sts remaining league games:

Jan 26 Peterborough A 2.15pm

Feb 2 Market Bosworth H 2.15pm

Feb 16 Loughborough A 2.15pm

Mar 2 Ilkeston H 3pm

Mar 9 Newark A 3pm

Mar 23 Market Rasen H 3pm

Apr 6 Bedford Athletic A 3pm

Apr 13 Towcestrians H 3pm

Apr 20 Northamptonians H 3pm