Disallowed tries added to Melton RFC’s frustration as the Third XV were beaten at derby rivals Syston in the Merit League C.
With Melton turning out four competitive senior teams on the same day, the visitors arrived with a smaller squad, but boasting the return of the England Fire Service prop James Marman and new face Rob Delucci.
But Syston also struggled with numbers, with Melton having to donate a few players as the match kicked off at 14-a-side.
The hosts scored early as they employed their young, fast backs around Melton’s weakened flanks, but the visitors responded with some devastating crash ball rugby.
However, conditions were difficult and errors were made, leading to the first of many refereeing interventions.
Melton were ferocious in the scrum and carried an obvious weight advantage, and from the back of one, Mitch Parker’s pass found Delucci running at pace.
With precious metres made, the hard-working forwards drove towards the try line and Marman arrived at the line, but when Melton recycled again and crashed over, the referee deemed the score to be held up.
Melton continued to play good carrying rugby, but Syston took advantage of Melton’s weakened flank to score again.
Matt Horne’s up and under and Josh Buxton’s crashing challenge on Syston’s second row brought a knock-on.
From the resulting scrum, Phil Kerr exploited Syston’s lack of defence on the wing to swat off defenders on a 30-metre run to the line for some well-deserved points.
Faith restored, and heads carried higher, Melton attacked again, but Syston’s athletic forwards closed them down.
At every pause in the game, the teams were shuffled, with the hosts strengthened by players from their Second XV substitutes.
A weaving run from Syston’s outside centre took him through Melton’s defence untouched to score another try.
With conditions unfavourable for Melton’s game plan, desperate passing and attempts to match Syston’s pace began to take its toll.
But the visitors were rejuvenated at the start of the second half and made metres through excellent phase rugby and good breakdown discipline, while Syston began to make mistakes.
The hard metres were made, but not quite executed, while great tackling from Mark Potter and Ollie Chapman slowed Syston’s advances.
But Syston’s patience was rewarded when the ball was moved quickly to the wings and added further points through great support play.
By now, the game was out of reach for Melton, but their commitment was undimmed as they produced some ferocious attacking rugby.
Phase after phase put Syston under a constant barrage from the forwards, followed by short passes to the backs, forcing the hosts to yield cheap penalties.
Melton continued to knock at the door, and with the try line in sight, were awarded yet another penalty.
Inching ever closer, Mark Potter crashed into three defenders, but the ball was recycled and back with Jo Chirico before Horne crossed the line.
But the celebration was short-lived when the referee disallowed the try for an obstruction which hammered the final nail in Melton’s coffin in a 45-5 defeat.