Table-topping Bedford Athletic managed to overcome a torrent of adversity to emerge 46-12 victors at Matlock on Saturday.
With a pitch resembling a quagmire, the rain pouring, and a penalty count heavily against them, it was to their credit that they stamped their authority on proceedings to secure the result.
Led out by Ryan Taylor, making his 100th appearance for the first XV, the team were soon on the scoreboard when Josh Pearson spotted space down the blindside from a rolling maul and fed Robbie Locke for the opening try.
Matters were about to get quite difficult for the visitors as they too often found themselves on the wrong side of the referee’s whistle.
Nine penalties in a row were awarded against them and on this basis it was no surprise to see Paul Ryder sent to the sin bin, followed 10 minutes later by James Mortimer.
The 14 men couldn’t hold out and wing Harry Boyd levelled matters, finding the space out wide on 28 minutes.
The game then appeared to implode on 35 minutes as the referee penalised three robust tackles in a row with yellow cards; Tim Taylor and Tom Cruttenden being removed from the field for Matlock and Robbie Locke departing for Bedford Athletic.
Paul Ryder kicked a penalty to steady matters for the visitors, and on the stroke of half-time, they sent a driving maul over the line for a try to Josh Pearson, converted by James Mortimer to give themselves a 15-5 lead.
In the second half Charlie Darlow and then Stephen Woodhead broke the defensive line in quick succession, resulting in two further tries for Athletic.
Mortimer converted both, and when Ben Reed went over the try-line at the back of another maul on 53 minutes, the game was settled as a contest.
Matlock continued to try and make the most of the possession they had and earned a penalty try on 65 minutes. James Fairclough kicked the conversion but it was the visitors who finished stronger in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Firstly Josh Cassell outstripped the cover defence for the sixth try, before Ben Reed once again touched down at the back of a rolling maul.
Athletic now take a 13-point lead into Saturday’s game at home to Newark.