Melton RFC endured another tough afternoon on Saturday with a lengthening injury list and home defeat to Bugbrooke.
The Northamptonshire side began the day below Melton in the Midlands One East table, and having lost the reverse fixture.
But Melton were hampered by lengthening injury list which is approaching critical with numerous first choice players out, including Leon Gormley, Duncan Lennox and Sam Badham who are expected to have prolonged spells in the sidelines.
Consequently some of the younger players are stepping up for first team league action.
The visitors started the brighter with several phases of pressure which paid off with an early converted try.
The Yorkshire referee was being assessed and keen to make his mark, and Melton unfortunately conceded a strong of penalties.
Finally this resulted in a smartly-taken break from a five-metre scrum as the scrum-half darted over to open up a 14-0 lead.
The hosts finally woke up with a break from Kieran Stone, well supported by Klay Radford, who was tackled just short.
Bugbrooke infringed at the maul and Harvey Green slotted the resulting penalty.
But despite this, Melton continued to give away daft penalties, and Jack Forfar was sent for 10 minutes on the sidelines for bad language.
A period of good attacking rugby from the home side came to nothing when they spurned easy penalty kicks in favour of attacking lineouts, but failed to secure good ball.
Chris Rose provided a good link between the pack and the backs, but critically a dropped ball from an attack was scooped up and the winger scored out wide to give the visitors a healthy 24-3 half-time lead.
It seemed a mountain to climb for Melton, but it was a remarkable game of two halves as the hosts restarted with a determination which had been lacking in the first half.
The referee flourished another yellow card for the Bugbrooke centre, and Melton took advantage.
From the resulting lineout, a well-orchestrated drive by Marcus Badham and Charlie Loveday saw Tom Allen drive over from close range. Green slotted the conversion.
Straight from kick-off, Ollie Circuit returned the ball with interest and Stone’s driving run scattered the opposition.
Rose timed his support run to perfection and took the scoring pass, leaving Green with a simple conversion to reduce the deficit to 24-17.
Keeping up the pressure in the forwards, Dave Meakin came on to add some pace into the front row.
Bugbrooke tried everything to stifle the attacks with kicks out of defence, but Aiden Brookes had a sound game under the high ball at full-back.
But the visitors scored next with a quick break on the blind side from a scrum.
Spotting the defence out of alignment, a smart grubber kick gave the winger enough room to score.
Determined to make amends, the backs combined well, with Circuit looking dangerous in attack.
A flowing move saw Klay Radford take a flat pass at pace and brush off several tackles to score.
Radford came very close to scoring again when the visitors fumbled the ball, but Bugbrooke’s speedy winger tackled back and hauled him down just short of the line.
Bugbrooke held on for a narrow 29-22 win, leaving Melton with the slight consolation of a losing bonus point, but rueing the soft early tries which had cost them the game.
Their second-half performance spread over the full 80 minutes could well have brought a different result.
Melton drop to 10th, two places and six points above the bottom three.
The league takes another break this weekend before Melton face an important trip to second-bottom Huntingdon on Saturday, March 3.