Matlock vs Ilkeston Match Report
By Steve Quinn
Elks fight for hard-earned draw
Elks began the season with a tough trip to Matlock and came away with a well-deserved draw following a hard fought match played mainly in heavy rain.
Matlock began the game much better and spent long periods in the Elks half, Matlock were forced into errors by a strong Elks defensive line with persistent rain also making play difficult.
The Elks scrum was working well with the evergreen Dave Clay leading the way, this came to the fore when Matlock had a great attacking 5 metre scrum on the right side of the pitch, the Elks pack drove Matlock back and forced scrappy ball which was eventually turned over and cleared.
As half time approached the Elks finally had some decent ball and territory and worked their way into Mattock’s 22, unfortunately a loose pass went astray and was knocked on. From the ensuing scrum the Matlock No8 picked up and made 40 metres before off loading to the winger who sprinted through to score.
Extras added making it 7-0 after 38 mins.
The Elks response was immediate as from the kick off they forced a knock on and had an attacking scrum, Jake Lamb made 20 metres brushing off several tacklers before he was stopped short of the line. Joel Clay continued the move and fed a great off load to Tom Pottinger to crash over, Harry Walton added the conversion and it was all square at half time 7-7.
Elks picked up their game in the second half and created problems for Matlock with well positioned kicks from Ben Middleton and Jake Lamb, Matlock struggled to deal with the ball in the heavy rain and the Elks had much more territory and possession.
Matlock were penalised for not rolling away and Elks had a shot at goal on 50 mins, Harry Walton pushed the kick wide which was not made easy with the underfoot conditions. The Elks continued to struggle with the conditions and several line outs went wrong at key moments, combined with several knock on’s the game was mainly fought out between both 10 metre lines.
Elks did create some chances with great midfield charges from Joel Clay and Tom Pottinger but they could not get the final passes to hand for any real scoring chances.
Matlock upped their game in the final 10 mins searching for the winning score and created an excellent driving maul making 20 plus metres, the Elks were penalised for dragging it down and Matlock had a shot to win the game on 78 mins, thankfully for the Elks it was pushed wide.
Matlock continued to attack as the clock ran down but the Elks defence stood strong and the final whistle blew.
Overall a draw was probably a fair result and showed a massive improvement from 2 heavy defeats last season at the hands of Matlock.
Heavy rain meant it was never going to be a flowing game but the Elks defensive line was strong and the scrum excellent. Hard to pick a man of the match but there were strong displays in the backs from Jake Lamb and Ben Middleton, Tom Pottinger showed up well in the forwards but Man of the Match goes to another forward in the shape of Joel Clay who carried well and made some good hard yards as well as disrupting many Matlock attacks.
The tough start to the season continues next week as the Elks host Melbourne who were a shade unlucky to get relegated last year and will be keen to return to Midlands 1 East. Kick off 3PM at the Stute.