Lincoln’s 1st XV pushed title-chasing Matlock all the way before claiming a bonus point in a narrow 22-19 defeat at Longdales Park.
Lincoln started strongly and showed on the field that the gap between the sides is less than the league table suggests.
Lincoln opened the scoring after 14 minutes when their man-of-the-match Ben Sykes won the ball at the lineout, before prop David Beveridge offloaded it for Grant Cowe to dive over for a try.
Richie Dixon successfully slotted over the conversion.
The hosts continued to put pressure on their opponents, but the first half turned when Lincoln lost Harry Cowles and Cowe to yellow cards.
Matlock took advantage with tries from John Stathan and captain Simon Wright giving them a 10-7 half-time lead.
The visitors increased their lead in the second half with Wright powering over for another try.
Sam Ball went over for a try on his first team debut for Matlock, which James Fish converted.
Matlock lost a player to the sin bin before Lincoln reduced the deficit with Sykes running in for a try, which Dixon converted.
Lincoln secured a losing bonus point when a quickly taken penalty by Mitch Ashworth set up Brandon Hogan, who offloaded for Owen Mitchinson to go over for a try in the corner.
Top scorer Harriet Fluck was among the tries as Lincoln Ladies bounced back to winnings ways with an impressive 17-7 home win against York RI.
Shannon Snell and Bob Chapman also scored tries, with the latter adding one conversion, as Lincoln avenged November’s narrow 14-5 away defeat.
Snell was also named as coach Brian Kelly’s player of the match for the second successive game, while Liv Smith and Emily Nelson were named as the back and forward of the match respectively.
Lincoln Colts (Greens) won 28-17 against Newark thanks to tries from William Dark, Ben Manderfield, Jack Randell and Luke Wells. Randell and Ciaran Wolverson each kicked two conversions.
The Colts (Reds) lost 33-17 against Mellish. Jess Wright, Jack Osmond and Jack Dark scored Lincoln’s tries, with the latter adding one conversion.
Lincoln’s Under-15s put in a great team performance to beat Goole 24-5. Flynn Smith and Eddie Gibson scored two tries apiece, with Max Thompson kicking two conversions.
In National League Two (North), Jacob Hardy scored the visitors’ only try as Scunthorpe lost 54-5 at Tynedale.
In Midlands Two East (North), captain Ben Chamberlin, Spen Holvey, Mike Starling, Will Pridgeon and Jake McKay all scored tries as Market Rasen & Louth lost 41-25 at Long Eaton.
Stamford remain top of Midlands Three East (South) after a hard-fought 24-17 win at Northampton BBOB.
Rees Burns, Mike Kendall, Jack Jones and Harry Bentley scored Stamford’s tries, with the latter adding two conversions.
Bourne, who are six points behind in third place, claimed an impressive 21-7 victory at Huntingdon & District. JJ Roberts, Jack Berry and Josh Lynch scored the tries for Bourne, with Sam Evison kicking all three conversions.
Harry Sharman scored Spalding’s only try in their 29-5 defeat at Oakham.
In Midlands Three East (North), John Mansfield scored a hat-trick of tries as Grimsby beat Sileby Town 64-5.
Ash Rendall-Tyrrell and Luke Chaplin grabbed two tries apiece, with Dane Briggs, Evan Picking and Lewis Rothenburg each scoring one. Brad Treacher added seven conversions.
Kesteven were also big winners after an impressive 55-5 victory at Rolls Royce.
Tom Wood and Dan Turner grabbed two tries apiece, with Adam Draper, Ollie Lowe, Jack Jonson, James Goodrich and Tom Webster each scoring one. Ollie Wood kicked five conversions.
Boston moved back to the top of the Midlands Four East (North) table after a 21-7 home win against East Retford, who drop to second.
Jaron Cowern grabbed two tries for Boston and John Hummel scored one, with Will Scupham kicking two penalties.
The two sides meet again at East Retford on Saturday.
North Hykeham battled bravely in a 72-0 defeat at Chesterfield Panthers despite missing several players and others picking up injuries during the game.
Cleethorpes 1st XV’s trip to Tupton was postponed, but the 2nd XV enjoyed an emphatic 83-10 victory against Sleaford.
Ben Watson and Tudor Roberts each scored a try as Gainsborough progressed through to the NLD Vase semi-final with a 24-5 victory against Long Eaton.
Gainsborough were also awarded a penalty try and Robbie Goodyear kicked two conversions and a penalty. Gainsborough will travel to face Nottingham Corsairs in the semi-final.
In Midlands Four East (South), Stamford College Old Boys won 40-19 at Kempston thanks to two tries from Haydn Johns.
Macsen Harker, Tom Birks, Alan Flanders and Carl Brierley-Lewis each scored one try, with Johns adding five conversions.
In the Women’s NC2 North (East), Becky Clark and Cassie Milestone scored the tries as Scunthorpe battled hard to claim a narrow 10-0 win against Sleaford.
Sleaford worked excellently as a team with great support play and strong scrums, but just couldn’t find their way over the try line.
Captain Hannah Booth scored a try and a conversion as Boston Ladies made it back-to-back victories with a 7-5 win at Hull Ionian Ladies.