Melton RFC and Syston RFC set for first league derby in a decade

Kieran Stone punches a hole through the Syston line in May's County Cup final EMN-171110-135059002
Kieran Stone punches a hole through the Syston line in May's County Cup final EMN-171110-135059002
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There will be scores to settle and bragging rights at stake on Saturday when Melton RFC meet Syston for their first league clash in a decade.

Gareth Collins’ side make the short trip down the A607 to take on a Syston side who have made a flying start to the Midlands One East season.

They lie third in the early season standings with four wins from five, while Melton’s slender win over Peterborough last time out ended a run of three straight defeats and left them in eighth.

There may well be a little extra needle in Saturday’s contest following their Senior County Cup final clash in Leicester in May.

A last-minute try gave Melton RFC the edge at Welford Road, shading a tight game 17-16 to lift the cup for the second year running against higher league opponents.

It capped a hapless season for Syston who dropped out of the Midlands top flight for the first time in six years.

Melton RFC chairman Marcus Twidale said: “Both teams are looking forward to playing again in the league after many years apart.

“The clash always has extra sparkle as many players know each other off the pitch.”

League meetings have been rare in recent times with the 2007/08 season being the last time both sides played together in the second tier of Midlands rugby.

It proved a miserable campaign for Melton who finished bottom of the division with just one win and a draw.

Syston came up just short in their promotion bid that year, finishing third, but won 24-13 at Burton Road and then completed the derby double, 41-16 on their own patch.

But it had been a very different story just two seasons earlier in the third tier when Melton did the double over their local rivals on their way to becoming Midlands Two East champions with a perfect 100 per cent winning record.

As well as friendships off the pitch, several among Saturday’s line-up will have had a foot in both camps at some point in their careers.

They include the Badham brothers, Sam and Marcus, who returned from a spell in higher league rugby with Syston to help inspire their hometown club’s recent resurgence, younger sibling Marcus as skipper.