NLD Pennant League
Ripley Rhinos 1st XV 0pts
Matlock 3rd XV 70pts
HIGH flying Matlock thirds visited Mill Hill for this Pennant League fixture against the only side to have beaten them this season in the league and did so in style, brushing Ripley aside with a thumping 70-0 win.
The hot day and firm pitch were an ideal opportunity for the extremely strong Matlock side to show their pace and fitness from the off and so it proved as they pinned Ripley back with powerful running allied to fast clearing out at the ruck.
The opening try duly followed as they exploited weak tackling and the scores became a procession in the first half. Matlock had the ability to bring their backs through from deep at pace onto the ball and Ripley’s centre pairing of Tim Moll and debutant Jamie Banks had a mountain of tackling to get through.
When the maroons did stop the initial bursts, Matlock were quicker to the breakdown and more dynamic and won fast ball that could exploit the large holes that had appeared in the Rhino defence as they laboured to cover across.
Skipper Sam Musgrove worked his socks off in defence, trying to be everywhere and make the tackles needed but not enough of his team mates had the fitness to match him and make life harder for the well-drilled Matlock team.
When the home side did get possession, off decent lineout most commonly, they could see the scores mounting up and rushed their attacking and were turned over when more controlled play would have bought them better results.
An injury to prop Dave Arrowsmith saw Musgrove step up to loose head prop to cover and ensure the set-piece at least continue to offer some ball for the maroons but Matlock continued to play very good rugby and went into the interval 36-0 ahead.
The second half was a repeat of the first, good handling from Matlock and incisive running lines found the large holes on offer in the very tired Ripley defence and the scores continued.
Musgrove continued to lead from the front but not many of his side could follow his lead and they spent the half defending the line and seeing Matlock move through the phases to continue the scoring and notch another six tries to finish off 70-0 winners.
Matlock were a very good 3rd team and took advantage of a weak Rhino display to avenge their defeat at Cromford Meadows earlier in the season, though there were few players in this visiting side from the one that lost this game which points to how strong a squad they must have.
Rhinos can be pleased they managed to get hooker Carl Whitley through his first full game in three months and for the wake-up call this gives them for the key games of the coming weeks.
A display of leadership by example won skipper Sam Musgrove the Abex Window Cleaning Contractors man of the match award from his team mates and hopefully more of his team will follow his lead in future games.
This Saturday sees the last regular Saturday matches of the season; the firsts finishing their league campaign with a game away at Melbourne seconds and the seconds hosting Hope Valley seconds at Mill Hill. Both matches will kick off at 3pm.
On a brighter note, congratulations to the 11 Rhino runners who took part in the Derby 10K on Sunday morning, raising money for the Yorkhill Children’s Foundation, with personal bests set by James and Antoinette Franco.