Melton RFC’s old boys travelled to Leicester Forest expecting a tough game and duly got one as they fell to a 36-17 defeat.
However, despite a score of six tries to three in the hosts’ favour, the match was even throughout as the two sides produced contrasted playing styles.
Melton Vets played some excellent rugby in the tight, particularly through skipper Lewis Brooks, Dave Meakin and Craig Simpson, while Carl McGhee was outstanding throughout the match, tackling with ferocity and making several line breaks to launch attacks.
Fraser Gifford and Darren Farrish combined well at half-back, as did centres Paul Blagburn and John Miller.
It was not a day for wingers, but Ben Shouler and Stuart Bowles were very solid all round, always looking hungry for the ball and not missing their tackles.
In the loose Paul Martorano and Adam Chambers carried well and flankers Marcus Twidale and Tony Berry were always on hand at the breakdown putting in much unheralded work.
The big difference between the teams was Forest’s continuity, having played all season and fielding two superb younger players, borrowed from the seconds.
Indeed the number eight and the full-back were involved in four out of the home team’s six tries, proving there is no substitute for pace at this level.
Melton had to do it the hard way, but the scores were worth waiting for.
At 12-0 down, lineout ball gave Farrish the time and space to send a perfect grubber kick through for Bowles to score in the corner.
Melton then scored the best team try of the match at 19-5 down.
Classic interchange between forwards and backs saw Brooks carry three times in the move from the halfway line before then being on hand to drive over from five yards out for a deserved try.
Forest added two more scores from Billy Whizz and a knock-on to lead 31-10 at the break.
The visitors had two efforts disallowed before Forest scored again through their flying winger.
But to their credit, Melton continued to plug away and were rewarded when Simpson crashed over from 10 yards and Farrish kicked the conversion.
It was a good match, but Melton need more game time together if they are to have a realistic chance in the Vets County Cup as they aim to make it third time lucky after two final defeats.