Positives without points as Melton RFC whitewashed by high-flying Kettering
Despite more late changes to deal with, Melton RFC First XI put up a spirited performance despite the heavy home defeat to title-chasing Kettering.
Back row Sam Dennison, in particular, deserves credit for playing the 80 minutes at centre, making him Klay Radford’s seventh partner in the position this season as Melton’s campaign continued to be dogged by injuries.
On a day more suited to surfing, with standing water on the pitch and swirling winds, Melton coughed up some early handling errors, with Kettering playing the advantage to spin the ball wide for the first try in the corner.
Melton regrouped quickly and started to work through the phases, with Will Helliwell, returning from his Midlands duties, orchestrating and providing Radford with crash ball to break the line.
But another surging Melton move produced the next knock-on which allowed the visitors to run in an easy try (12-0).
Kettering were soon on the attack again and, with yet another penalty against Melton for collapsing the scrum, they kicked for the corner and secured their third try from the resulting lineout.
The hosts were determined to hit back and forced numerous penalties, but they could not convert them into points, and after half-an-hour Kettering got the try bonus point with an easy run-in following another Melton error.
Melton again went on the attack, searching for some first-half reward, with young Cank and Brooks trying their best to break down the wing, only to be tackled in to touch.
A home lineout should have been rewarded with a try, but the official deemed the throw not straight, and it was Kettering who finished the half as they started with a late converted try for a 31-0 half-time lead.
Coach Gareth Collins changed a few things at half-time and gave the Kelsall brothers their First XV debuts.
They both worked hard and made some inroads, linking well with the pack and keeping things tight, but Crossland, who was starting to show some promise on his return from long-term injury over-stepped the mark and was yellow-carded for an infringement in the ruck.
This only deepened Melton’s woes and Kettering were soon over the white line again for the first points of the second half.
But again Melton’s response was strong and they really should have converted the pressure they applied, forcing more penalties, but had nothing to show for them.
Kettering added a final try to run out 41-0 winners, and yet there were plenty of positives for Melton, but no points on the board.
Melton slipped to 11th in Midlands One east after the defeat and visit second-bottom Huntingdon on Saturday for a crucial rearranged fixture.