Excellent team performance delivers fine victory at Ilkeston
By Sophie Loeber
Ilkeston 12 v 54 Matlock
Matlock travelled to Ilkeston for this season opener. With the home side having come down from the Midlands 1 East League, Matlock were prepared for a tough and tense encounter. A clever kick off by the home side caught the visitors napping and Matlock found themselves immediately on the defence. Ilkeston began sharply but Matlock’s defensive line was quick and solid, stifling the home side’s efforts. Playing up the slope and against a stiff wind Matlock began to play their patterns and with their pack working hard to retain possession and the backs looking very sharp, they began to progress up the pitch and grow in confidence. However on 20 minutes it was the home side who scored first when a Matlock loose pass was pounced upon and the ball was kicked ahead for the Ilkeston winger to win the race for the touchdown for a converted try, 7-0. Matlock responded superbly to this setback and within two minutes the scores were level. Matlock attacked from inside their own half, moving quick ball to Mike Allen on the right wing. His powerful run took him the Ilkeston 22, quick recycling at the next two phases had the home side defence on the back foot and the ball was moved quickly across the pitch for James Young to throw a superb pass sending George Whittaker over in the corner. Tom Morton converted brilliantly from out wide, 7-7. Minutes later Ilkeston were back in front benefitting once again from a Matlock error, the loose ball was collected and kicked to the corner. Ilkeston won Matlock’s line out and after a couple of phases managed to force their way over in the corner. The conversion attempt came back off the post, 12-7. Matlock again bounced straight back as their slick handling and support play began to open up the Ilkeston defence, space was created on the left wing and Mike Allen was put into space for a free run in for a great score. Morton added the extras again, 14-12. From the kick off Matlock gathered the ball and set off again playing with pace, power and precision worked their way back into the Ilkeston 22 and with the home side struggling to stem the tide slick passing saw James Young squeeze over in the corner. Morton’s conversion again was superb bouncing over off the cross bar 21-12. Half time.
The second half began and Matlock now had the advantage of the slope and the breeze. Ilkeston found it difficult to find a way through the Matlock defence with Tom Cruttenden particularly to the fore. On 48 minutes Matlock were on the attack again and from a scrum on the Ilkeston 22, Simon Wright picked up and fed Tom Morton on the blind side. Morton made good ground and when he was stopped just short of the line he managed to slip the ball to James Young who borrowed over for his second try. Morton’s conversion attempt was wide, 26-12. Young unfortunately took a knock to the head in the act of scoring and had to leave the field to be replaced by Marcus Bolam with Alex Powell switching to fly half. Matlock continued to press at every opportunity and even when Ilkeston did venture into the Matlock 22 the visitors defence held fast and the lines were cleared with one notable clearance kick coming from hooker Curtis Bolam showing the wide range of his skills. Matlock remained in charge and scored another excellent team try through Mike Allen on 55 minutes, Morton adding the extras for a 33-12 lead. Matlock brought Charlie Jackson onto the back row from the bench allowing Tom Wright to switch to prop with Jonny Bunting taking a well-earned rest. Matlock continued to pile on the pressure and scored another fine try through Henry Morton on 68 minutes again converted by Tom Morton, 40-12. Alex Powell was given a yellow card taking one for the team after too many penalties in a row leaving Matlock to play the last 10 minutes a man down. Rob Glover came off the bench with Curtis Bolam moving to prop in place of the hard working Tom Stokes. He made an almost an immediate impact finishing another fine Matlock passage of play by blasting his way through an Ilkeston defender to crash over for a try. Morton added the extras, 47-12. It was probably fitting that Matlock had the final say on the stroke of full time when the forwards combined to send the impressive Tom Cruttenden through a gap some thirty metres out to race under the posts to touch down. Morton drop kicked the conversion and the referee blew the full time whistle, 54-12.
This was a hugely entertaining game with Matlock putting together some sublime passages of play leading up to some great team tries and they were thoroughly deserving of the margin of victory. The team performance owed much to the teamwork ethic, the hard work on the training ground as well as bags of individual flair and strong leaders on the pitch. It also reflected Matlock’s history as a family club with three sets of brothers in the match day squad. Congratulations to Harry Morton on his 50th appearance for the first team.
Next week Matlock play host to Tamworth in the Intermediate Cup first round. See website for kick off time.
Team: J Bunting, C Bolam, T Stokes, R Cookman, J Harrod, T Wright, T Cruttenden, S Wright (Capt), T Morton, M Allen, J Young, H Morton, D Hooton, G Whittaker, A Powell.
Bench: C Jackson, R Glover, M Bolam