Matlock 31 - 12 Kettering
Kettering’s play-off hopes were effectively killed off in a bizarre 5 minute spell in the last quarter of a game they were in complete control of and one which should have been won long before the home side hit them with a 3-try blitz to stun the shell-
The first quarter was a pretty intense affair, with Matlock showing that they were not to be taken lightly, with some very strong running and tackling by a number of their players, whilst the Blues moved the ball around and caused the home side problems every time they managed to get the ball wide into open spaces.
It was Matlock who struck first however, after a spell of pressure led to a penalty, which the home fly-half, whose kicking game was to become more and more influential as the game progressed, duly converted. The Blues struck back and should have scored on a number of occasions before Joe Newman in support of a break down the blind-side received the pass and skipped through a couple of defenders to score the try, which Joe Daniel converted.
Despite dominating the game, and creating the better chances, the Blues couldn’t find a way through and Matlock’s tactic of kicking to the corners and looking to make the visitors run from deep kept them in the game, until the 52nd minute when Kettering stretched the Matlock defence wide one way and then re-cycled the ball through several phases the other way for Shane Ling to score an unconverted try wide out on the left hand side of the field.
At this point there seemed like being only one winner, but then, in the 65th minute, and with their kicking game pinning the Blues deeper into their own half, Matlock struck and scored a converted try to close the gap to 2 points. Within 5 minutes they had transformed that into a 24-12 lead with 2 further converted tries as mistakes by the Blues gave them the opportunities and the home side gleefully took them! Firstly, a 22 drop out was kicked directly into touch, from the resultant scrum Matlock attacked and eventually scored following a knock on in-goal by the Blues. Then a missed touch kick opened the field up and somehow the home side found themselves with extra players to score. With their kicker in fine form the extra’s were added and suddenly the home side were on top.
Kettering continued to try to spread the ball wide but couldn’t find a way through and then when they did, and with a 3 man overlap, the ball was knocked on deep in the home 22 with the line at their mercy. With only 5 minutes left on the clock, it was clear that this, somehow, wasn’t go to be the Blues day! Then deep into injury time, the home fly-half again used his kicking skills, this time with a deft grubber which caught the, by now, disconsolate Blues defence unaware and Matlock scored their 4th and bonus point try to end up convincing winners of a game which should have been well out of their reach before that amazing turn around.