Melton RFC avoid Biggleswade banana skin

Sam Badham barks out the orders as Melton get another drive going at Biggleswade EMN-160223-095729002
Sam Badham barks out the orders as Melton get another drive going at Biggleswade EMN-160223-095729002
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A Melton squad depleted by injuries to key players overcame stern opposition to maintain their nine-point lead with five games of the season to play.

One of the longest trips of the season combined with more enforced changes made this game a potential banana skin.

Chris Rose ready to launch another Melton attack at Biggleswade EMN-160223-095718002

Chris Rose ready to launch another Melton attack at Biggleswade EMN-160223-095718002

The early omens were not good as the referee took exception to Melton’s robust start. Thankfully the home kicker was off form in the blustery conditions and missed four simple attempts at goal before finally finding his range to open the scoring.

It had been an uncharacteristic, lacklustre start from Melton, but the penalty finally stung them into action and good possession forced play deep into Biggleswade’s half.

Lee Miller was the target from the ensuing lineout and a first-class take brought a well-organised drive. This forced the heavier hosts back for Marcus Badham to score the first try.

Matt Cox landed a sweet conversion from wide out in difficult conditions.

Melton continued to press, but good ball from the forwards failed to translate into territory as the backs struggled to click.

A wayward kick out of defence was superbly taken at full-stretch by James Woolley and then shifted out to Mark Matthews.

Carl Prior took the ball, and cleverly kicked ahead before turning on the pace, receiving the kind bounce of the ball to race through for a try out of nothing. Cox added the extras.

Biggleswade’s large set of forwards kept possession very close with well-worked drives around the fringes, but they were stifled by hard tackling, particularly from Sam Badham and Lee Miller.

With the hosts unwilling to vary their attacks, half-time arrived with Melton comfortably bossing most phases and leading 14-3.

The visitors upped the pace after the break and were awarded a penalty.

Opting for the lineout, Richard Foster set up another trademark forward drives from the rolling maul which had Biggleswade back pedalling, and Marcus Badham plunged over. Cox again converted from wide out.

Play became scrappy as the strong wind made kicking a lottery, while handling was tricky.

But another attacking platform, set up by Bob Prior and Dave Osborne, gave good ball to the backs. For once the handling was speedy and well executed, giving Phil Stimson time and space to squeeze over in the corner for a fine bonus point try.

Cox’s kicking masterclass continued with a superb conversion from the touchline (28-3).

Talismanic second row Phil Cowey went off with a shoulder injury as did Sam Dennison with a bad bang to his ribs, and Christian Jeremiah and Adam Chambers came on to add some impetus.

Biggleswade stuck to the task with real belief that all was not lost, but Lee Miller’s towering display in attack and defence caused them plenty of problems.

Melton were left frustrated as several concerted attacks were adjudged to have infringed.

Another dropped pass was pounced on by Leon Gormley and hacked through to leave Biggleswade’s defence in disarray.

Every time a home player fell on the ball, it squirted out for Melton to hack on, and Chris Rose delivered the final coupe de grace with a well-timed boot and followed up well to score.

Cox’s conversion capped a 100 per cent kicking display.

On Saturday, in a break of the league schedule, Melton face a trip to Oadby for the Leicestershire Senior Cup semi-finals (2pm ko).

Melton: D. Osborne, M. Badham, B. Prior, S. Badham, P. Cowey, L. Miller, R. Foster, L. Gormley, C. Rose, M. Matthews, C. Prior, M. Cox, A. Broughton, J. Woolley, P. Stimson, C. Jeremiah, S. Dennison, A. Chambers.