Melton RFC First XV snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at Stewarts and Lloyds on Saturday as they let a 19-0 lead evaporate.
In a rollercoaster of a game which had everything good and bad about the intricacies of the laws and their interpretation, Melton gave the hosts a chance to win from a touchline penalty, which the rugby gods decreed would succeed.
Fielding one of the youngest squads in the league, Melton were magnificent throughout the first half, playing front foot rugby generated by the forwards and orchestrated by the outstanding half-back combination of Chris Rose and Harvey Green.
The forwards were dominant in the set-piece, especially through club stalwart Gavin Prior, who had a superb game, following his late call-up to the hooker role, and Ryan Wakefield in the boilerhouse of the second row.
Harry Ely and Luke Pawley in the front row continued to improve their scrummaging and ball carrying, while the back row offered great balance following the return of Simon Peters to the pivotal number eight position.
Melton’s three tries came in different ways.
The first was from a catch and drive, with Jack Forfar claiming the touchdown before skipper Green converted for a 7-0 lead.
The second score came from a blistering break by the in-form Harry Wood from his own 22m line.
He fed full-back Will Garnett who injected the pace over halfway and popped the ball out to speedster Henry Kaczmarczyk.
He finished a brilliant move out wide – a contender for try of the season.
Melton’s third was equally well-manufactured as Rose broke blindside and chipped the ball from the resulting ruck into space.
The lineout was easily won and three drives later, Rose popped the ball up to the strong-running Sam Dennison and he crashed over for a great try.
Green easily converted, and with a 19-0 advantage, Melton were flying, confident and should have gone onto win the match.
Several penalties were conceded and Stewarts and Lloyds landed three points to give them a foothold in the competition before half-time.
The second half was played at a frantic pace up the slope.
Melton will hopefully learn from the demise that followed, especially using the boot to play rugby in the opponent’s half instead of trying to run the ball into heavy traffic and being turned over.
The game fell into disarray at one stage as yellow cards were given out to both teams for several indiscretions as anarchy crept in.
Another lesson to learn for Melton to try and play with the match official, no matter how difficult that may be.
The hosts fought back to within two points with two converted tries, despite some fantastic defence from Klay Radford and Dan Evans.
Will Garnett, meanwhile, was outstanding under the high ball as Stewarts and Lloyds bombed the 22 area.
At 19-17 ahead, Melton had the ball in their own 22 going into the last play of the match.
But as they tried to run the clock down the visitors conceded a penalty right on the touchline.
Despite the difficulty of the kick, it was destined to go over, and creep over it did, to send the home side into euphoria.
A bonus point loss was scant reward for some of the excellent rugby from Melton who dropped to eighth in Midlands Two East (South).
They must come back on Saturday and learn from this experience, which they will do to a man.
They welcome third-placed Belgrave RFC to Burton Road on Saturday for a 2.15pm kick-off. All support is welcome.