Matlock RFC suffered a 20-3 defeat at Peterborough on Saturday in the Midlands One East.
Matlock fielded a strong pack and the backs were full of pace so confidence was high. Peterborough were relegated last season but have made a really bright start with four victories.
Things got off to a bad start with a tortuous journey making the warm-up preparations before kick off rather hurried, perhaps leading to them not starting in the right frame of mind.
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Peterborough started the game well and from the off it was evident they were well organised. Their forwards recycled the ball quickly and their backs were keen to move the ball through the hands at every opportunity. Matlock struggled to gain any worthwhile possession in the first 10 minutes and their over eagerness earned Peterborough a penalty which their kicker duly converted.
In the second quarter the Matlock’s forwards began to gain more possession and this enabled the Matlock backs to show their paces.
A nice run by Neville, who passed to Packard, showed the Matlock backs were potent but Peterborough tackled well and snuffed out Matlock’s forays into their half.
Peterborough were putting their phases together well and threatened the Matlock line on a number of occasions however Matlock’s defence held well with some crunching tackles from, Cooper, Hooton and Powell.
After 30 minutes, George Whitaker had to leave the match with a sprained ankle and was replaced by George Stephenson. Chris Young kicked out of hand superbly and cleared the Matlock line on numerous occasions. The half ended at 3-3.
In the second half Peterborough came out firing on all cylinders. Again the Matlock tacklers were strong but a couple of missed tackles resulted in a converted try for Peterborough (10-3). Matlock were gaining their fair share of possession.
A fine attack down the right hand side resulted in what appeared to be a fine try for Hooton however the ref decided it was a forward pass.
Matlock did have their chances. Powell sliced through their defence and just needed a support player to finish the move but Peterborough’s scamble defence managed to keep Matlock out.
The fine kicking of Young was getting Matlock in attacking field positions but Matlock struggled all afternoon to win their own lineout which meant Matlock never really threatened the Peterborough line.
It was from a Peterborough line out that they moved the ball wide and an overlap and missed tackle mean a try for Peterborough which was duly converted (17-3). Nick Coombes had to leave the field with a back injury and was replaced with Andy Bell.
In the final few minutes, the Matlock scrum conceded a penalty and the Peterborough kicker slotted an easy three points.
Overall a disappointing performance by Matlock. Peterborough deservedly won the game 20-3. Matlock competed well upfront but their inability to build phases and the turnover count meant Matlock rarely looked like scoring.
I am sure Matlock will be looking at their lineouts this week as this is perhaps one area of improvement.
On the positive side the attitude and commitment of the players was first class, their heads never dropped and coach Alan Johnson is confident Matlock will be back to their usual high tempo style of rugby this week against the old foe, Derby, at Cromford.
A large crowd would be appreciated for what promises to be an interesting encounter. It is also VPs day so should be a great social occasion for all. Kick off is 3pm.