Matlock 1sts 24
Mansfield 1sts 28
The squad was well prepared and in confident mood to get back to winning ways but a crucial late decision ultimately proved costly.
After a minute’s silence following the sad passing of club stalwart Tony Gray, the game kicked off in front of the large crowd boosted by the VPs’ pre-match dinner.
The first points came from the boot of Chris Young who soon added a second penalty. Mansfield hit back with a penalty of their own and the teams then traded penalty kicks to make the score 9-6. The first try came when Chris Buckley intercepted and juggled the ball 40 yards out to score near the corner.
Young narrowly missed the conversion and came very close with a couple more penalty attempts. Four minutes from half-time, the game took a major turn when Crofts was sin-binned for handling in the ruck and Mansfield added a penalty as a result of a card infringement, followed shortly after by a converted try when Matlock had failed to clear the ball into touch.
Half-time arrived and Matlock were unlucky to find themselves 16-14 down.
Matlock came out for the second half back to equal numbers and, after 46 minutes, edged ahead with another Young penalty but this was countered by a second Mansfield try, unconverted.
Neville was injured attempting to stop the try and was forced to leave the field. Matlock rallied again and were unlucky not to score when Dan Hooton supported a great half break by Hartley on the crash. Matlock maintained the attack and were awarded a five-metre scrum.
The Matlock pack were shoving their much heavier opponents back over their own line and a penalty try was awarded when the Mansfield flanker tried to the kick the ball out of the scrum. Young added the conversion.
Matlock’s defence looked like holding firm until the defensive line was baulked by an obvious crossing move which went unpunished. Mansfield moved the ball to the opposite wing to score.
The conversion was successful and Matlock were trailing 28-24. The final whistle went leaving them hard done by. On a brighter note, the crowd had been entertained by two sides playing good rugby.