Melton RFC highlighted the importance of a strong squad on Saturday as a much-changed XV returned to league action with victory over bottom side Dronfield.
The newly-promoted arrived at Burton Road in desperate need of a win to kickstart their recovery, and faced a home side shorn of key personnel by injury.
But Melton were in no mood to be charitable as they began at pace, determined to get an early score which duly arrived courtesy of a well-worked set move from a lineout.
Dan Wakefield took a clean catch, and quick ball from Chris Rose saw Harry Wood in off his wing. Mark Matthews timed his run well to create the extra man and score out wide with Matt Cox adding the conversion.
The cold wind didn’t help the handling from both sides, but Melton kept up the pressure even after Klay Radford was forced off injured, replaced by Gareth Collins in the centre.
Dronfield didn’t help their cause when they had a second player yellow-carded for persistent infringement, and Melton used the extra man advantage to score a try from a set scrum when Lee Miller powered over.
Jack Forfar then pounced on a loose tap back from a Dronfield lineout and Rose, spotting the defence was stretched, released Collins on the break.
The player-coach sped through a gap and his finely timed offload allowed Harvey Green to streak in at the corner for a well-worked try.
The final score of the half came from a lineout catch and drive. Wayne Brookes set up the maul and drove Dronfield back several metres before Marcus Badham scored a captain’s try to make it 22-0.
The second half brought a plucky effort from Dronfield who caught the hosts napping with some deft moves from forwards and backs.
Their efforts were rewarded when they scored out wide, and a well-struck conversion made it 22-7.
Realising the game needed putting to bed, Melton upped the intensity and Green went close from a chip and chase, but the Dronfield full-back covered well to snuff out the threat.
It was somewhat against the run of play when Melton got on the wrong side of the referee and both Miller and Collins were yellow-carded in quick succession.
Sensing an opportunity. Dronfield applied the pressure, but good defensive patterns stifled the threat.
Badham then cleverly spotted an overlap, spinning out a miss-pass from broken play and James Woolley skinned the cover defence to score a stunning try out wide.
Duncan Lennox came on at scrum-half and almost scored with his first touch of the ball. He gathered his own chip and slipped a pass to Green who scored one-handed. Cox converted.
The final score came from another dominant set piece as Dronfield were driven off their own scrum. A miss-move in the backs gave Green room to spot Matthews who injected some real pace from full-back to score out wide.
A mixed performance from Melton, but a welcome bonus point win lifted them up to fourth in Midlands One East ahead of their trip to
Melton: D. Osborne, M. Badham, W. Brookes, K. Bugby, D. Wakefield, J. Forfar, L. Miller, C. Prior, C. Rose, M. Cox, K. Radford, H. Green, J. Woolley, H. Wood, M. Matthews, G. Collins, D. Lennox, C. Loveday.