Matlock RFC inflict first defeat on league leaders Melbourne

Matlock inflicted a first defeat of the season on league leaders Melbourne at Cromford Meadows on Saturday, running out 26-24 winners to maintain their own 100 per cent home record.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 5:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 5:15 pm
Luke Croft runs at the Melbourne defence during Saturday's game. Photo: Colin Baker.

After tight early exchanges, Melbourne went in front when Matlock were pinged at a scrum for an early push and whilst the home side looked to the ref for an explanation, the Melbourne scrum-half took a quick tap and the Matlock defence were caught napping as Melbourne crossed for a far too simple score. The conversion added, the home side found themselves trailing 7-0.

Matlock responded well and after winning a line-out in the corner, the ball was moved quickly out wide to Harry Morton who stepped into the gap and forced his way over for a good team try. Morton added the conversion and scores were level.

Matlock continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded with a converted try when Henri Packard was sent clear after space was finally created by strong carries from George Whittaker, Simon Wright and Luke Crofts. Morton added the extras for a 14-7 lead, although a penalty soon reduced the arrears to 14-10.

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Matlock began the second-half in determined fashion. On 50 minutes the strong running of Whittaker saw him bounce several would be tacklers and creating a good attacking platform. The ball was quickly shifted out wide and to Packard and with Jim O’Reilly in close support as decoy, he turned the Melbourne full-back inside out and raced away for a great individual try near the posts. Morton’s conversion attempt was off target.

Melbourne bounced back with another converted try to leave the score 19-17 but Matlock responded again as the ball was fed out to Ben Neville seven metres out to touch down near the posts. Morton added the extras for a 26-17 lead with 15 minutes left on the clock.

After some prolonged and determined defence Melbourne made the most of Matlock having had James Harrod sin-binned and scored another converted try with four minutes remaining, a late penalty from 35 yards then put wide of the posts late on much to Matlock’s relief as they held on for the victory after an entertaining game.

Matlock go to Newark on Saturday.