Melton RFC pipped by Coalville in County Cup cracker

Melton RFC's pack maintained their dominant form at higher league Coalville in the county cup EMN-150126-101853002

Melton RFC's pack maintained their dominant form at higher league Coalville in the county cup EMN-150126-101853002

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Melton finally slipped to their first defeat of the season as they were beaten by higher league opposition in the county cup.

With Coalville leading Midlands Two East (North), the league Melton are aiming to join next season, the tie was always going to be a step-up, and they had to face it without key players, especially in the backs.

But the visitors were determined to make a statement of intent against their old rivals and did so in a match the hosts described as their toughest of the season.

The early exchanges were full of passion and commitment and it was Melton who scored first. A superb tackle and turnover from Leon Gormley gave Sam Grindey time to spot a gap, and his astute kick over the defence gave Chris Williams enough space to dribble the ball and score out wide.

Coalville grew frustrated as Melton attacked with strong runs from Dan Wakefield and Ryan Kemp, leading to a yellow card for the second row as he infringed once too often.

Melton opted for a set scrum and drove the hosts back with a mighty shove. From broken play, Marcus Badham made a break and fed his brother Sam with a ŵell-timed pass who crashed over for an early 10-0 lead.

Coalville reduced the deficit with a well-worked move which saw their dangerous centre take a crash ball from deep and score a converted try.

The home side pressed with strong running from all phases. Despite wonderful defence from Klay Radford and Goose, Coalville put together several good phases of short-range attacks and the scrum-half dived over to open up a 14-10 lead.

The game continued to ebb and flow between two well-matched sides. Melton conceded possession with some loose kicking, and when a kick out of defence failed to make touch, quick hands gave Coalville an overlap, allowing the winger to squeeze in at the corner.

A well-struck conversion gave them a 21-10 lead which they carried through to half-time after Melton were denied a try for a forward pass.

The second half continued at the same frantic pace, but Coalville had upped their game and increased their lead with a long-range penalty.

But Melton never gave up as Nick Crossland and Dave Osborn gave their all in attack and defence. Coach Gareth Collins made his debut in the centre and James Long was brought on to bolster the pack.

This galvanised the visitors’ pack which stole another lineout through Wakefield and drove for the line. The forwards had Coalville back-pedalling furiously and Marcus Badham dived over for a try which Ben Warwick converted.

Coalville’s place kicker added another long-range penalty, but further attacks were thwarted by Goose, who was having a fantastic game at scrum-half, Sam Clemons, Sam Badham and Wayne Brooks.

The Melton pack were intent on showing Coalville they were not overawed by the gap in league status and took the game to their illustrious opponents.

From a set scrum, Melton drove the hosts back several metres and the forwards were unlucky not to score a pushover try when Coalville’s scrum-half just managed to dive for the ball as it was nudged over the line.