Melton RFC Firsts complete unbeaten league season at Chesterfield

Melton pile forward during their 29-6 win at Chesterfield Panthers on Saturday EMN-150413-111924002
Melton pile forward during their 29-6 win at Chesterfield Panthers on Saturday EMN-150413-111924002

Melton put the disappointment of their national semi-final defeat behind them as they completed an unbeaten league season on Saturday.

A strong gusting wind blew the length of the pitch as Melton faced opponents who had performed strongly in the reverse fixture at the start of the season.

Chesterfield opted to play with the wind at their backs in the first half and early pressure from close support play in the forwards failed to make much headway for Melton.

The hosts won possession from good rucking and a huge kick downfield gained territory deep in the Melton half where an offside decision gave the home team an easy penalty to open the scoring.

Melton knew handling and possession would be an important factor and kept plugging away to find gaps in Chesterfield’s tight defence.

Good support play from James Long and Ryan Kemp grafted the hard yards before opening it out to the backs to show their pace. Klay Radford kept one flowing attack moving before releasing Carl Prior who crashed over in the corner for a fine try.

Chesterfield used the wind to good effect with probing kicks. A set scrum was wheeled and the South African referee deemed Melton had infringed to give the hosts another easy penalty and a 6-5 lead.

Melton responded quickly when Sam Grindey’s superb break and side-step left the home defence in tatters. A well-timed pass gave Leon Gormley space to use his lightning pace to dart over in the corner just before half-time.

Melton’s defence had done well to keep Chesterfield out in the first half with notable hard tackling from Duncan Lennox and Marcus Badham.

With the wind at their backs, the visitors looked to exploit the elements and pin Chesterfield back. The first chance soon came when a scrum on halfway saw the front row of Wayne Brookes, Marcus Badham and Dave Osborn bully their opposite numbers.

Sam Grindey broke on the blind side and his delayed pass gave Radford space to carve through the defence, only to knock on as he was set to score.

Badham’s excellent strike against the head in the scrum set up Ryan Kemp’s quick break, but he was tackled just short.

Sam Badham made bullocking runs in the dry conditions, while Wayne Brookes grafted for a try with delicious hand-offs.

A lovely flowing move from forwards and backs stretched the hosts, and Marcus Badham’s cheeky flip pass gave Chris Williams just enough room on the wing to score in the corner.

The back row of Lennox, Kemp and Gormley snuffed out home threats with sound tackling, but Gormley paid the price for infringing when he was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes. Yet Melton defended very well with a man down as Ben Warwick and Phil Stimson saved the day.

Back up to full strength, Melton upped the pace with their superior fitness as Gareth Collins and Adam Chambers came on to add zip to the attack.

Yet another attacking scrum drove the home pack backwards, and Chris Rose’s well-timed pass found Collins who flat-footed the cover with two side-steps and a swivel of the hips to coast in under the posts for a glorious try. Stimson added the extras.

James Long stole lineout ball well to set up another Melton attack. Smart thinking among the backs stretched the defence yet again as Prior and Radford’s quick passing released Williams.

He was hauled down just short, but Warwick took the scoring pass out wide. Stimson’s conversion capped the scoring.

Melton: W. Brookes, M. Badham, D. Osborn, S. Badham, J. Long, D. Lennox, R. Kemp, L. Gormley, C. Rose, S. Grindey, C. Prior, K. Radford, C. Williams, B. Warwick, P. Stimson, A. Chambers, G. Collins.