Midlands 2 East Play-off: Luton 35-22 Matlock
By Ian Nancollas
Luton beat Matlock 35-22 at Newlands Road on Saturday to win the Midlands 2 East play-off final and gain promotion.
Ben Murphy, Jake Hobbs, Jordan Davies and Ryan Staff scored Luton’s tries while Rik Hobbs converted three penalties in the game that could have gone either way.
Matlock started attacking from the get go, and after a number of phases, deep in the Luton half, the visitors winger offloaded the ball to the centre, leaving him one-on-one with Davies, the latter slipped and the centre went on to touchdown under the posts.
Matlock’s scrum half converted the simple penalty to make it 7-0 within the first five minutes. Luton looked shell shocked.
However, the lead didn’t last long as Luton pulled it level at the other end.
Hobbs kicked a penalty deep into touch, the lineout resulted in a maul and the home side’s pack used their strength to push it over the line before Murphy fell on the ball to score. Hobbs converted brilliantly from beyond the 22. Scores tied.
Luton doubled their league shortly after, the home sided looked to be pinned inside in their home, but Aidan Kenny made a break through and offloaded it to centre Hobbs, the latter kicked it over the full back's head and beat the winger in a race for the ball to score. His brother doing the business with his boot, again from a similar position, to make it 14-7.
Hobbs extended the home side’s lead by a further three points as he slotted home a penalty from around 40 metres, giving them a 10 point cushion.
Matlock nearly scored a breakaway try but a last ditch tackle from Luton denied the visitors who had to settle for a penalty, making it 17-10 at the break.
The Derbyshire side came out attacking again at the beginning of the second half and got the breakthrough straight away as their full back exploited a gap in the Luton defence finding himself in a two-on-one with his winger, he opted for the pass out to the man on the flank who touched down for the visitors second try of the match.
The scrum half’s kick curled away from his target and struck the far post, leaving Luton with a two points lead.
At the other end, it was the home side who attacking, after 12 phases of play, all inside Matlock's 22, captain Staff picked the ball out from the ruck, inches from the whitewash and forced himself over to make it 22-15.
However, Matlock fought back once more, the play started with a scrum 10 metres inside their own half, but some good rugby seen them progress up the field quickly and ended with their number eight crashing over the line. The visitors scrum half converted the straightforward kick to draw the game level.
Hobbs made it 28-22 as he converted two out of three penalty kicks with ten minutes to go.
The match was still finely poised as it approached full time, but then Matlock’s number eight failed to catch a box kick from Dave Evans, Hamm collected the loose ball and offloaded it inside to full back Davies, he raced free to the line sealing promotion for the Bedfordshire side. Hobbs added the simple conversion to make it 35-22.
LRFC Match Reporter