Oakham give Melton RFC Third XV tough day at the office

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A much-changed Melton RFC Third XV had only six of the usual suspect available for their league clash with Oakham.

There was a welcome injection of youth in the form of Parker and Plowman, while Clithero returned to the front row, after a spell at their Rutland rivals.

Two of the oldest players in Leicestershire shared the pitch in Oakham’s 70-year-old second row and Melton hooker Jo Chirico at 63.

A strong crosswind made for tough conditions and the message to the Melton squad was simple – keep hold of possession.

Melton looked dangerous straight as they returned the kick-off from their 22 into Oakham’s half through great phases from the forwards.

Out-of-position fly-half Denzel was released on a rampaging run and crashed through five tackles, but he found himself isolated as he approached their 22, and after losing possession, Oakham’s back line broke and scored.

In the barrage of Oakham’s attacks, Melton’s confidence was knocked, as was Wright’s finger, forcing him off.

The strong winds forced handling errors from both sides, but the size and skill of Oakham’s scrum took Melton’s pack backwards more often than normal.

Miller’s great tackling stopped the visitor, but one tackle attracted the referee’s attention and he awarded a cheap penalty, and Oakham increased the deficit.

Melton hit back hard as more crashing runs from Denzel, Wardhaugh and Chapman took the hosts close, but possession was lost cheaply in the breakdown and Oakham returned to the home half.

But penalties began to go Melton’s way, and from a good lineout in Oakham’s half, brilliant link play teed up Kerr who spotted a gap and darted through it, swatting off attempts to halt his progress as he crossed to score.

Melton held Oakham for a spell, but poor man-marking saw the visitors score again before half-time.

After second half changes Melton restarted with renewed confidence, making advances with brilliant offloads from Simpson, Plowman and Chirico, and good carries from Berry, Lobley and Towell.

But handling errors saw the scrum tested again and again.

The hosts held Oakham for a long time as something seemed to click in the Melton team, but they couldn’t break through a well-drilled defence.

Oakham added a couple more tries to their tally to seal a 38-5 win.

Melton RFC Third XV host Nottingham Barbarians in a friendly on Saturday (ko 3pm).