RFU Senior Vase Semi-final
MELTON RFC 22
WEST LEEDS 33
Melton’s valiant late fightback fell short as West Leeds’ early dominance proved decisive in this Twickenham shoot-out.
Conditions were perfect and the visitors took advantage as early attacks at pace tested the home defence. Their forwards and backs linked well with expansive play overseen by a fly-half who controlled the game.
An early penalty from halfway was narrowly wide, but West Leeds were ahead when hard tackling turned over a Melton attack in midfield. A smart grubber kick through the covering defence bounced kindly for their pacy right winger to score out wide.
A well-struck conversion made it 7-0.
Wayne Brookes and James Stapleford made the hard yards and earned a penalty as Melton responded. The hosts opted for a lineout, but for once it misfired, allowing West Leeds to stifle the drive and steal possession.
The West Leeds defence snuffed out every threat and denied Melton time to put together phases. And from broken play, quick hands again released the right winger who outstripped the cover defence with pace to score in the corner.
Trailing 12-0 within 15 minutes, Melton were stunned, but after a concerted phase of attack, they earned a penalty for offside, and Phil Stimson made it 12-3.
However, West Leeds promptly slotted a penalty of their own to restore their 12-point lead.
Skipper Marcus Badham rallied his side, and Leon Gormley and Nick Crossland produced some outstanding tackling in defence, but the real hammer blow came when the Leeds left-winger was given too much room and showed devastating pace to score in the corner.
The visitors stifled numerous attacks, and defended well when Ryan Kemp’s fine lineout take set up a rolling maul, but quick ball out to Carl Prior on the burst gave him room to score a classy try, 20-8.
Coach Gareth Collins gave Melton a stern talking-to at half-time, and Chris Rose replaced Duncan Lennox who was sidelined by an ankle injury.
Melton had to start the second half strongly, but Sam Badham was soon yellow-carded for a harsh decision in the tackle.
The West Leeds forwards had the ascendancy in the pack and used the extra man to good effect.
Melton compounded their problems when Stimson was also yellow-carded in attempting to thwart a dangerous attack, and West Leeds increased their lead with another penalty.
The visitors’ fly-half continued to control the game with very astute kicks, but Ben Warwick and Tom Kempin covered back well in defence.
A set scrum gave West Leeds another attacking platform and from a smart chip-kick over the defence, their centre showed blistering pace to score. The conversion made it 30-8.
Collins replaced Warwick at full-back and Dave Osborn added fresh legs in the front row as Melton threw everything at West Leeds.
Rose’s quick tap penalty caught the defence napping and slick passing found Klay Radford and then Collins whose superb dummy earned Melton a fine try. Rose added the extras.
The forwards were finally on top and linked well with Lewis Moult and Kemp. Numerous phases of attacks stretched West Leeds as Lewis Glover was stopped short of the line, but Prior was up in support to crash over out wide.
Rose’s superb conversion made it 30-22 to set up a tense finale.
Melton were in the ascendancy, but the final points came fittingly from the Leeds fly-half whose superb drop goal from near halfway capped a narrow but deserved win.
Melton: W. Brookes, M. Badham, J. Stapleford, S. Badham, R. Kemp, L. Gormley, L. Moult, N. Crossland, D. Lennox, P. Stimson, K. Radford, C. Prior, L. Glover, B. Warwick, T. Kempin, C. Rose, G. Collins, D. Osborn, S. Grindey, C. Williams, A. Chambers, J. Long.