Blue and Whites beaten by solid Matlock after defence proves too tough to crack

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Mansfield travelled to Matlock looking for a much improved performance after the opening day defeat only to come away with a 29-8 defeat.

With four enforced changes, there were starts for Luke Folkard at tight head and a completely new second row of Ian Colemen and Gareth Gripton.

Ant Hawson came in at centre, while Aiden McGregor moved to blindside allowing Josh Hall to play at No. 8.

Matlock were happy to contain the visitors at the start as they patiently took it yard by yard to Mansfield.

Andthey took the lead after three minutes when the No.8 exploded through the middle of the Mansfield defence and the ball moved rapidly through hands into the visitors 22 and the posts for the first converted try.

Mansfield came back and won a scrum in Matlock’s 22. Adam Shaw went blind and fed Jordan Cleaver, who was unlucky to end up with his foot in touch as he attempted to cross the try line.

Cleaver and Jonno Williams tackled well and skipper Phil Donaldson was everywhere.

Matlock made a great break from half way on 11 minutes as they quickly went out to the wing before breaking through the Mansfield defence for their second try.

Matlock were awarded a penalty on half way shortly after. The referee chose to march Mansfield back 10m for back chat, making it kickable and it sailed over.

Mansfield played with more confidence and started to build on phases. And, on 20 minutes, Alan Symcox made a tremendous break in to the home half and fed well.

The home defence conceded a scrum and conceded a penalty from it, which Williams put it calmly between the posts.

Mansfield cranked up the gears and started to show some grit and with the Matlock pack being driven on by their No 8, who throughout this game was tremendous at doing the simple things with ball in hand.

It was becoming a real contest and battle of wits. Attacks from both sides were snuffed out and counter attacks launched.

A Matlock attack was intercepted by Williams on 30 minutes and he raced towards the home try line only to drop the ball as he crossed the line.

The break showed the class of a the player who sadly missed the whole of last term, but the dropped ball was probably a slight lack of match fitness.

On the stroke of half time the Matlock full-back broke went full length but was stopped just short of line by Williams try saving tackle as Matlock went in with a 17-3 lead.

Josh Hall put some good hard hits in during the second half and Cleaver was very unlucky to be denied a try after several runs were stopped short of the line by a well drilled Matlock defence.

Wayne Robinson had a busy afternoon in defence and was replaced on 55 mins with Richard Donaldson coming on the wing and Jack Par moving to full-back.

There was a moment of pure class from the Matlock full-back on 58 minutes as he took the ball in his 22 before chipping a perfect ball over the oncoming Mansfield players.

He then collected it and set off at break-neck speed to score.

It was one of those moments why we all come to watch rugby.

Mansfield reduced the gap with a consolation try on 75 minutes when McGregor caught well in line ou.

He then drove the ball forward, which worked its way to Symcox who had the simple task of scoring.