Nine under 11s’ teams arrived at Ilkeston RFC at the weekend to begin the battle for the NLD Cup or Shield, with Matlock under 11s looking to compete well in the qualifiers.
Matlock’s first game was drawn against Melbourne in a match that was always going to be their biggest challenge. The game was Matlock’s strongest, where all players gave a fantastic performance.
The five players in the scrum continued to drive Melbourne and open up opportunities for the team. Some great passing showed a real team approach, but to no avail. Melbourne took advantage of Matlock being one player down in the first half and took the game but Matlock were fired-up and ready for the next one.
Matlock soon found themselves fighting for the ball in a lineout. The ball was collected and fast hands ensured the ball went to the fly half, Harris Orridge-Du Bois, who used his speed and determination to score.
The defence stayed strong and held Ilkeston off for much of the first half until Ilkeston collected from the scrum and sneaked in an equalising try. Matlock continued to take the edge over Ilkeston and a great collection in the lineout from Ben Thompson resulted in the second try from Harry Morley.
With a defeat and a win behind them, the third game, against Ashbourne, would prove to be crucial. Matlock worked hard in defence and supported each other well but soon found they were chasing the score. Matlock continued to win the lineouts and offload the ball. Orridge-Du Bois ensured it was passed quickly into the hands of the outside centre Connor Linathan, who had a great run through a strong defensive line, scored a try and pulled Matlock back into the game. At half-time, it was 5-5.
The second half was exciting with great tackles by Sam Edwards and Harry Morley helping prevent Ashbourne scoring and opening up opportunities for Matlock. In the final minute, Ashbourne broke through and managed to score.So after a long hard day for the players, they are determined to come home with the NLD Shield in March.