Midlands Senior Vase final: Vipers 5-46 Melton – match report

James Stapleford at full stretch to score as Melton overpowered Vipers EMN-150316-103451002
James Stapleford at full stretch to score as Melton overpowered Vipers EMN-150316-103451002
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Melton captured their second title in seven days as they put in-form Vipers to the sword in Leicester on Saturday.

The win also booked Gareth Collins’ side a place in the national semi-finals where they will face northern champions West Leeds on home turf on Saturday, April 4.

Another try for Melton at Vipers EMN-150316-111325002

Another try for Melton at Vipers EMN-150316-111325002

Melton began with intensity which had the hosts back-pedalling and tackling for all they were worth. Vipers conceded several early penalties for infringements at the breakdown, but Melton spurned kicks at goal in favour of attacking lineouts.

Ryan Kemp was imperious, taking lineout ball cleanly and setting up driving mauls, and from the second, Vipers were driven back several metres and Marcus Badham scored a superb forwards try.

And soon after, Chris Rose spun a well-worked scrum ball out to Phil Stimson who worked a switch with Carl Prior. He spun through tackles to power his way over, and Stimson’s conversion established an early 12-0 lead.

Sam Badham stole lineout ball deep in Vipers’ half, and a clever miss move in midfield left Klay Radford with space to burst through with a scintillating run.

He was well tackled by the full-back, but popped a pass to Nick Crossland, who anticipated the play well to romp in for another top-drawer try. Stimson added the extras.

Melton upped the pace and played with real confidence as Radford was a menace in the centre. Their power and pace forced Vipers to concede several penalties, and a quickly-taken tap penalty released Prior.

He brushed aside tacklers and found Leon Gormley, quickly up in support, who sprinted in for a try under the posts with Stimson adding the conversion.

Melton reverted to type with battering runs from the forwards, notably James Stapleford and Nick Crossland, who made the hard yards in attack.

A storming Brooks run had the defence in complete confusion and his fellow prop Stapleford was up in close support to reach out at full-stretch and score out wide. Stimson’s conversion bounced off the upright, but he made amends by slotting a penalty after the hosts strayed offside to establish a 34-0 half-time lead.

The coaching team insisted Melton maintained their focus with a tricky swirling wind to face in the second half.

Vipers were determined to claw their way back, but Tom Kempin almost scored next, a last-ditch tackle denying him after he was released by Ben Warwick’s break.

The tackling of back rowers Gormley, Moult and Crossland frustrated Vipers who collected two yellow cards.

As Melton’s intensity eased, Duncan Lennox and Dave Osborn came on to add fresh impetus. Ryan Kemp whipped a pass out to Prior who made a half-break and accelerated through the gap for a stunning try.

The Vipers front row was one of the best Melton had encountered this season, and they scored a deserved try out wide when concerted pressure gave them an overlap.

But the final word went to Melton’s magnificent forwards. Vipers tried to stem the tide, but when another driving maul made several metres, captain Marcus Badham dived over for the try.

And even when the wind knocked the ball off the tee as Stimson attempted the kick, he sweetly stroked over a drop goal conversion as a dominant Melton sealed a coveted double.

Melton: J. Stapleford, M. Badham, W. Brooks, S. Badham, R. Kemp, N. Crossland, L. Moult, L. Gormley, C. Rose, P. Stimson, C. Prior, K. Radford, T. Kempin, L. Glover, B. Warwick, S. Morley, J. Long, S. Grindey, D. Lennox, A. Chambers, D. Osborn, C. Williams.