Melton RFC succumb to Nottingham Casuals in windswept cup tie

Melton RFC's pack take on Nottingham Casuals at the scrum EMN-150112-112731002
Melton RFC's pack take on Nottingham Casuals at the scrum EMN-150112-112731002
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Melton suffered a rare defeat against a side they had not met for several seasons as they were knocked out of the Midlands Intermediate Cup.

Both sides struggled to adapt to the galeforce gusts and driving rain on a heavy wet pitch by the River Trent.

Endless penalties made for a stop-start game, but the Melton pack began to assert control, and the debutant second row, Phillip Cowey, was prominent in the set piece as the forwards wisely kept it tight. An early scrum resulted in a kickable penalty, but the gales made a mockery of the first attempt.

The forwards began to grind out the hard yards with Christian Jeremiah and Ryan Kemp impressing in the loose.

A set scrum brought a powerhouse drive, allowing Chris Rose to whip the ball out to the blind side where Mark Matthews made a perfectly-timed run from full-back to score out wide. A well-struck conversion made it 7-0.

The second try followed soon after as another penalty went Melton’s way. A lineout catch and drive was well marshalled by Marcus Badham who unselfishly slipped the ball to Dan Wakefield who scored. Another fine Matt Cox conversion opened a 14-0 lead.

The referee decided to impose himself even further when he yellow-carded a player from both sides. Notts bravely made efforts to run the ball at every opportunity against the wind, but resolute defence denied them a score with Carl Prior and James Woolley making a good centre partnership to snuff out the threat in midfield.

Notts had the gale at their backs on an exposed pitch as they looked to eat into the lead in the second half, but the hosts soon lost a prop to a yellow card for a scrum offence.

Melton used the extra man to good effect with several phases of attacks as Sam Badham and Wayne Brookes made telling breaks, but the final pass often went astray.

Frustration began to creep in as Melton played the wrong sort of game for the conditions with too many loose kicks against the wind.

Notts grew in confidence and a missed tackle saw the centre break and score from loose play. The tricky conversion reduced the deficit to seven points.

More handling errors in the wet added to the problems and an unwise chip over the Notts backs was gathered by the dangerous number eight who evaded the cover defence to score an unlikely try and the conversion levelled the scores.

Neither side wanted extra time and both tried desperately for the winning score. The game deteriorated and Carl Prior sustained a serious-looking knee injury which forced a reshuffle in the backs as Woolley had already gone off with an ankle problem.

Notts exploited the situation with some judicious high kicks into the swirling gale and were rewarded when Adam Broughton was caught. Turnover ball gave them the chance to grubber kick through and score the winning try.

Melton can now concentrate on the league with a big home match to come on Saturday when they entertain second-placed Lutterworth. Only a point separates the top two. Kick-off 2.15pm.