Midlands One East: Melton RFC off to a flier against Leighton Buzzard

Melton outmuscled Leighton Buzzard on their Midlands One debut EMN-160609-122709002
Melton outmuscled Leighton Buzzard on their Midlands One debut EMN-160609-122709002
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Head coach Gareth Collins was delighted with his team as Melton RFC opened their Midlands One East account with a comprehensive victory on Saturday.

The season opener marked a big step up for Melton as they welcomed unfamiliar opponents to Burton Road. The weather was more typical of a late autumn day as wind and heavy rain greeted the kick-off.

Scrum-half Duncan Lennox sets Melton on the attack after another dominant scrum EMN-160609-122724002

Scrum-half Duncan Lennox sets Melton on the attack after another dominant scrum EMN-160609-122724002

Melton had two new faces in the starting XV as Kieran Stone and Kieran Bugby made their first team debuts, and both sides started brightly as they probed for an opening against some stout defence.

It was a while before the game settled into any rhythm, but the first scrum laid down a marker when the visitors were driven back with a huge drive from the Melton pack.

The referee had no choice but to award a penalty with the Buzzard front row in complete disarray, and Melton sent a kick deep into opposition territory.

The ever-reliable Dan Wakefield took a clean lineout catch to set up a driving maul which rolled over the line for Sam Badham to claim the opening try. Matt Cox added a well-struck conversion.

The visitors attacked from the restart and tried to get their speedy backs into the game at every opportunity, but first-rate tackling from Duncan Lennox and Marcus Badham denied them any headway.

As frustration grew, Buzzard had a penalty reversed for arguing, and Melton took a quick penalty to set up another forwards drive.

Leon Gormley’s stunning break flatfooted the visitors, before good work from Mark Matthews and Cox allowed Ben Warwick to burst into the line from full-back and flip a pass to James Woolley who outpaced the cover and scored in the corner.

The visitors continued to concede penalties at an alarming rate as Melton’s pack turned the screw, with Wayne Brooks and Dan Wakefield making inroads.

Another penalty saw Melton spurn an easy kick for a set scrum. Yet another massive drive gave an armchair ride for Bugby at number eight to crash over from close range.

Buzzard didn’t do their cause any good when their hooker was yellow-carded for another infringement as they crumbled against a dominant Melton pack.

The extra man paid dividends when Gormley’s good clearance kick downfield caught the full-back in possession. Turnover ball gave Matthews time and space to give a well-timed offload to Carl Prior who was unstoppable from short range to crash over.

Cox’s conversion gave Melton a comfortable 24-0 half-time lead.

Buzzard came out after the restart, and a short lineout caught Melton napping and resulted in a smartly-taken try in the corner.

The visitors attacked the home defence with renewed confidence, but textbook tackling from Stone and Adam Chambers kept them out.

Another stunning tackle and turnover from Gormley, a real menace all afternoon, gave Cox room to break.

The visitors’ full-back stopped a certain try, but the resulting scrum saw Marcus Badham steal a ball against the head and only a loose pass prevented a score.

But slick passing from another couple of scrum penalties released Harvey Green who scorched over in the corner for a try.

Dave Osborne and Simon Peters added fresh legs as the tempo and intensity slowed.

Melton continued to press home their advantage, forcing yet another yellow card for the hapless visitors.

A poor clearance was superbly taken at full-stretch by Green whose mazy run beat several would-be tacklers. Good support play saw Bugby wrestle his way over for his second try and Cox capped the scoring with a sweet conversion.

There will be tougher games to come in a long league season, but it was a very satisfying reward for all the hard work put in training and a confidence builder.

Melton: W. Brooks, M. Badham, K. Stone, S. Badham, D. Wakefield, L. Gormley, K. Bugby, A. Chambers, D. Lennox, M. Matthews, J. Woolley, C. Prior, M. Cox, H. Green, B. Warwick, D. Osborne, S. Peters.