Frustrating afternoon in loss at Lincoln
Lincoln 18 v 17 Matlock
Matlock travelled to Lincoln with the squad showing several enforced changes. With Atkinson, Bolam, Cruttenden and Howard all ruled out through injury, Mike Allen was asked again to switch from the backs to go on the back row, Conor Loughnane would start at hooker and Rory Cookman on the other flank. Tom Morton picked up a back injury in training resulting in James Young starting at scrum half and Mark Thornley on the wing. Thankfully the line-up was boosted by the return of Simon Wright and James Fairclough. The early injury list and other players being unavailable resulted in late call ups to the bench for stalwart Chris Perry, and for youngsters James Painter and James Marsden.
Lincoln kicked off with Matlock playing into a strong wind. Matlock suffered an early blow losing Tom Wright after just 5 minutes with a suspected broken finger whilst attempting to catch a high ball. Chris Perry came on at hooker with Conor Loughnane moving to prop. During the early exchanges Matlock appeared to be in control and looked dangerous with ball in hand. From a lineout on their own 2 metre line Matlock’s strong driving maul was very effective. Lincoln countered further opportunities in this area by not competing at the lineout. Matlock’s defensive line was reasonably solid against a strong running Lincoln side who demonstrated their respect by taking a shot at goal rather than kick to the corner. The shot glanced wide off the upright. Having held out well against the elements Matlock began to play some attractive rugby and a wonderful passage of support play took them all the way up to the Lincoln line for Conor Loughnane to pick up from a ruck and force his way over for a try. Whittaker added the extras for a 0-7 lead with 35 minutes gone. Matlock failed to gather the restart cleanly giving Lincoln an attacking platform. The defence was holding firm but a high tackle in front of the posts resulted in an attacking scrum from which they created an overlap out wide for a simple run in. The conversion missed half time score was 5-7 to Matlock.
Only two minutes into the second half Matlock had a ruck on the Lincoln 10 metre line. The ball was won and Young went to pick up the ball but was man handled off it by a player coming through the ruck who then proceeded to play the ball. As Matlock appealed to the referee for the penalty for playing the scrum half, their pleas were ignored and with the Matlock full back poised to join the attacking line on the other side of the pitch the Lincoln blind side winger had an unopposed run in to the corner for an unconverted try and a 10-7 lead. This surprise event buoyed the home side and it took the visitors some time to regain their composure. On 60 minutes Matlock wrestled back the lead with another superb try having worked their way upfield with some superb rugby. The move was finished off by George Whittaker in the corner who failed with the conversion attempt, 10-12.
Matlock failed to secure the restart and then trying to work an exit were penalised for holding on in front of the posts. The penalty kick was successful and the lead had swung back to Lincoln 13-12. Three minutes later the lead was extended by a try off the front of a 5 metre lineout following Matlock being penalised just inside their own half, 18-12. Matlock were not done yet and following a great break they were soon pounding the Lincoln line. The ball held up over the line for a Matlock scrum, Fairclough went blind and forced his way over the line to make it a one point game at 18-17. Matlock failed again to secure the kick off putting themselves under unnecessary pressure. With barely a minute left on the clock they were defending on their own line but forced a penalty for holding on in the tackle. With this effectively the last play they went for it and when quick hands from Dan Hooton led to James Painter putting Mark Thornley into space the opportunity was on. With Harry Boyd in support Matlock continued to surge forward and with great patience and control they took the attack all the way to the Lincoln line. The home side defence was definitely creaking and a winning score looked almost certain. Conor Loughnane carried again and went to ground to set the ball inches from the line, the tackler clearly not releasing his hold on the ball. Matlock moved into continue the rucking and the pick and goes, tired Lincoln players were standing around in offside positions and to everyone’s shock and surprise, and to Lincoln’s relief, the referee blew the final whistle. Matlock were more than a little dumbfounded by the explanation given and can count themselves rather unlucky not to have won this game. Taking nothing away from Lincoln who played their own pitch and conditions very well Matlock know they can play much better than this.
Matlock’s next league game is at home to newly promoted Long Eaton on the 29th September, kick off 3pm.
Team: Wright T, Loughnane C, Stokes T, Emmerson M, Harrod J, Allen M, Cookman R, Wright S, Young J, Fairclough J, Thornley M, Morton H, Hooton D, Boyd H, Whittaker G
Bench: Perry C, Painter J, Marsden J