Melton RFC braced for first leg of promotion double-header

Melton RFC player-coach Gareth Collins rallies his troops against Belgrave EMN-161103-124502002
Melton RFC player-coach Gareth Collins rallies his troops against Belgrave EMN-161103-124502002
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Melton RFC face one of their biggest matches of the season on Saturday, knowing victory at third-placed Lutterworth will move them a step closer to their second straight promotion.

The First XV hold a 13-point lead over Lutts in Midlands Two East (South) with four games to go and know a win would guarantee them a top two finish.

The champions will go up automatically, while the second-placed team will go into a promotion play-off against the North Division runners-up.

Collins will be expecting a stern examination on their cross-county trip to Lutterworth.

Melton turned in one of their best performances of the season to win the reverse fixture 36-17 at Burton Road back in December.

But Lutterworth have lost just four times this season - including a narrow 17-15 defeat at second-placed Market Harborough the last time out.

“We expect a very tough test,” Collins said. “We played very well to defeat them in the home fixture and we expect them to throw everything at us on Saturday.

“It is a massive game for them in terms of their promotion chances, too.”

Melton are almost back to full-strength for the showdown except for long-term absentees Duncan Lennox and Nick Crossland, as well as Klay Radford who could be sidelined for the rest of the season.

Collins added: “Klay Radford is a huge loss and he will probably miss the remainder of the season. Duncan Lennox and Nick Crossland will also miss the rest of the season, but hopefully all three will be back for pre-season.”

Victory on Saturday followed by a positive result in their following game at home to Harborough on April 2 would wrap up back-to-back league titles with two games to spare.

But skipper Marcus Badham is demanding even more than that from his side who have gone almost two years unbeaten in the league and have lost just once in knockout competition this season.

The First XV’s last league defeat came on March 22, 2014 – a 36-7 loss to Belgrave.

They finished rock bottom that season and were relegated before Badham returned to the club of his youth to lead a remarkable revival.

He said: “We need to win two out of the four to win the league, but the ultimate aim is to go unbeaten.

“Of course we are pleased with the season; it couldn’t be going much better. We are not overly surprised because we have a great bunch of players.

“They are all friends and stick together, which reflects on the field, and the coaching staff have done a great job.”