Saturday’s strong winds eventually sunk Melton RFC First XV as they let a half-time lead slip at home to Old Northamptonians.
Hosting a side which had put 52 points on them in November, Melton again showed the scale of their improvements over the last month, particularly in their defensive stock in a 31-17 defeat.
The wind swept across the pitch, making handling difficult against a good ONs side on a day where the boot ruled the roost.
With many players still missing, head coach Gareth Collins fielded a robust young side which took on the visitors with attacking flair and provided the best first half the Burton Road spectators has seen for many months.
The wind was Melton’s ally and gave them the lion’s share of territory and possession, particularly from outside half Harvey Green who looks back to his best with his injury woes behind him.
Melton scored two very good team tries through Jack Merlane and the irrepressible Leon Gormley, which Green duly converted and then added a monster penalty from the halfway line.
ONs scored a couple of tries to keep themselves in the contest as they demonstrated the value of a consistent core of players who turn out week in and week out. Melton are gradually getting there with this aspect of the game, but they are finding it takes time to develop team cohesion.
At the half-time whistle Melton found themselves in the driver’s seat at 17-12 up, but with the disadvantage of the strong wind against them for the following 40 minutes.
The home side defended well in the second half, but found themselves under the cosh for long periods of time, and as energy levels dwindled, further scores were inevitable as the visitors pinned them back in their own 22.
To concede only three ties and two conversions was testament to how far Melton’s defensive stock has risen in recent weeks against visitors who probably expected to rack up another big score.
Coach Collins was unhappy to lose the match, but is buoyed by the progress the youthful squad has made since the Christmas break, and hopes it will continue for the remaining seven weeks of the season.
On this evidence the club is really backing the team to rise to the challenge.
This weekend there is a break from Midlands One East action, but Melton will be in action at Loughborough in the quarter-finals of the County Cup.