Depleted Melton RFC outgunned at classy Kettering
A tough trip to take on the high-scoring third-placed side was intensified when head coach Gareth Collins lost four players to illness the night before the match.
Right from kick-off, Helliwell floated a great kick for Circuit who took it cleanly, but then ran into the first Kettering brick wall of the day, resulting in a turnover ball and a clearance.
But Melton hit right back and from a well-worked lineout move involving Badham, Wakefield and Rose, only a last-ditch tackle stopped Radford’s powerful surge five metres out, preventing a certain try.
Kettering’s powerful pack took over for the next five minutes, rattling the visitors, and forcing a penalty at the scrum, the hosts kicked for the corner.
A textbook catch and drive move gave the home team the first try and points.
It seemed to be only a matter of time for Kettering to add more points as they piled on wave after wave of pressure.
And when Melton’s full-back was penalised for holding on, Kettering added a pushover try from the resulting scrum for a 10-0 lead.
From the restart quick handling caught Melton off guard, leading to another great try, followed by a first successful conversion.
Kettering had the try bonus points in the bag within 20 minutes after moving the ball with great hands across the park to score, with a big conversion added for a 24-0 lead.
Matters grew worse five minutes from half-time when Rose took a yellow card for a team offence.
While Melton got to grips with the new 14-man line-up, Kettering rubbed salt into the wound with their fifth score.
With heads low after a hard first half, Melton broke out of their own 22, giving Ollie Circuit a free run up the left wing.
Circuit then gave a simple two-on-one pass to Radford who strolled in for an easy finish in the corner, making it 36-5 at half-time.
Early in the second half Melton’s discipline let them down again, giving the hosts a penalty and a kick to the corner.
From the resulting lineout Kettering took their lead back up to 36 points with a try from a driving maul.
Five minutes later, Melton’s scrum was put under further pressure, giving them scrappy ball to contend with.
After a few phases trying to work space, Melton’s clearance kick was charged down and Kettering pounced for their eighth try.
The visitors had a spell in their opponents’ half where they looked to threaten, but after good carries from Bugby and Wakefield, Melton conceded a penalty at the ruck.
Kettering then showed their class with a great kick up the right for their winger to finish superbly in the corner with 20 minutes left (51-5). Melton conceded a few cheap penalties from the restart, allowing Kettering back into their half, but a great steal saw Radford break away.
He put in a sublime kick towards the Kettering 22, and then a defensive line led by Radford, Circuit and Henry Kaczmarczyk tackled the Kettering full-back into touch.
From the resulting lineout, Wakefield’s great catch and pass allowed Jeremiah to crash over from close range to give Melton the final say.
Melton: L. Pawley, M. Badham, C. Loveday, D. Wakefield, J. Long, S. Dennison, L. Gormley, K. Bugby, C. Rose, W. Helliwell, B. Johnson, K. Radford, O. Circuit, H. Kaczmarczyk, H. Wood, T. Allen, C. Jeremiah, J. Forfar.