Melton RFC left themselves with too big a mountain to climb as a second-half fightback fell short against Belgrave on Saturday.
The First XV had shipped 29 unanswered points by half-time, and despite a spirited recovery after the break, fell to a 29-12 loss at home to their old foes.
Belgrave are having another sound season, and Melton’s return to Burton Road promised to be an entertaining game, but no-one could have predicted what a match of two halves it would turn out to be.
The visitors had the look of a settled side with a powerful front five who established an early dominance in the set-piece, particularly in the scrum where they enjoyed a stream of possession to launch several attacks.
And the sustained period of early pressure eventually created a four-man overlap and the centre strolled over for the opening score.
The set scrum would prove a useful weapon for Belgrave for most of the afternoon, winning a string of penalties as the home front row were given a torrid time.
A strong wheel in the scrum gave the Belgrave scrum-half time to pick up and dive over despite the best efforts of Chris Rose.
And shortly after the second row made a strong break and with good support from his back row they scored out wide.
The resulting conversion gave the visitors a comfortable 17-0 lead.
Melton kept plugging away, with Dan Wakefield dominating the lineout as Simon Peters and Ian Dennison made territory at every opportunity.
Belgrave continued to attack, sensing the possibility of a big score, but Klay Radford and Ben Warwick both made stunning try-saving tackles.
Unfortunately they were the exception at times, and the visitors made it count when quick ball from the breakdown allowed the mobile prop to crash over.
Melton made life more difficult when Will Garnett was harshly yellow-carded for a knock-on that was deemed deliberate.
His opposite number made the extra man count when he squeezed over in the corner on the stroke of half-time.
A stern lecture from head coach Mike Holford, and an astute change in the second row where Sam Badham joined the fray, helped to settle the scrum at times.
This in turn seemed to galvanise Melton as they threw everything at their visitors who seemed taken aback by the hosts’ new-found confidence.
Archie Hutchinson came on at scrum-half and gave Harvey Green time to release Harry Wood and Radford, with the latter, in particular, making several strong breaks.
Several phases of play orchestrated by Wakefield and Holford made significant gains upfield, catching Belgrave napping.
And Wood was the beneficiary of Chris Rose’s quick pass to dart over and finally get Melton on the scoreboard.
The whole team were galvanised by this and really stuck at it as Belgrave struggled to contain the home side.
They were rewarded with a fine try from Warwick who used his speed to race over in the corner with a fine conversion added by captain Green.
Unfortunately it was a case of too little too late as the visitors saw out the half for the win.
Supporters were left to ponder what might have been had Melton played as well in the first half, but they can take heart from a strong second-half display.
The defeat left Melton eighth in Midlands Two East (South), while Belgrave sit third.
On Saturday, Melton head to Bugbrooke for a 2.15pm kick-off.