Melton RFC ready to upset County Cup favourites Hinckley

Melton RFC 37-7 Market Harborough EMN-160421-112733002
Melton RFC 37-7 Market Harborough EMN-160421-112733002

Melton RFC head coach Gareth Collins insists his team will not just head to Welford Road to enjoy the occasion as they prepare for the County Cup final next week.

Tuesday’s match is a landmark in many ways for the club. As well as a once-in-a-career opportunity to play at English club rugby’s most prestigious ground, it also stands out as Melton’s first-ever senior county cup final.

Melton RFC First XV squad ahead of their clash with Market Harborough EMN-160421-112722002

Melton RFC First XV squad ahead of their clash with Market Harborough EMN-160421-112722002

Facing a team which plays two tiers higher in the rugby ladder may also tempt some into thinking Melton’s players will just be happy to be there.

But Collins will head for Leicester believing his side can bring the trophy back down the A607 to Melton.

“We are totally going out to win the game,” he said. “We are not going there to make up the numbers.

“It’s important to enjoy the occasion, but we will enjoy it a lot more if we win the game; and I genuinely think we can.”

Having come through the stresses of being long-time leaders to win their second successive championship, Collins believes the final is a bonus and a chance for Melton to cap an outstanding season in style.

The team are no strangers to the big occasion and last year came within one game of Twickenham when they reached the semi-finals of the National Senior Vase.

This week’s tie could also help lay some ghosts to rest from that 33-22 home defeat to West Leeds.

Collins added: “It’s a complete role-reversal from the rest of the season.

“Now we are the underdogs so it gives us an opportunity to win a game of rugby without pressure.

“If we win, it will be a perfect end to two years of hard work and put to bed the disappointment of last year’s semi-final.”

A full 26 league places separate the cup final opponents, but Hinckley will approach the match with a distinctly different mindset.

While Melton wrapped up the title and promotion to Midlands One East with a game to spare, Hinckley needed a losing bonus point on the final day against title rivals Scunthorpe to guarantee top spot in National League Three (Midlands).

A 23-13 defeat left the two sides locked on the same points tally (108) and gave the North Lincolnshire side the title on games won.

The outcome means a huge distraction for Hinckley just days before the final as they host Wirral RFC in a winner-takes-all promotion play-off on Saturday.

The game could also provide a spying opportunity for Collins and his team. If they choose to do so.

“I’m not overly concerned about watching them,” he said. “It’s more about making sure we are psychologically ready.

“They play a good level of rugby, but they are amateur players just like we are.

“Market Harborough (Melton’s promotion rivals) gave them a good run for their money in the semi-finals so I don’t think we’re massive underdogs.”