A late penalty try salvaged Melton’s undefeated league record in a tight top-of-the-table clash at Southwell on Saturday.
On a dry day, but heavy pitch this match had all the makings for a great clash, but the game did not live up to expectations and Melton were lucky to come away with a 7-3 win.
After early pressure from Melton, Southwell were penalised at the breakdown, but player-coach Gareth Collins failed to convert.
Melton seemed fired up for the game with good forward play and two superb breaks by Carl Prior and Nick Crossland which came to nothing.
As the game progressed Southwell seized the initiative and seemed to want the game more than Melton as they put the visitors under considerable pressure.
Melton gave too much ball away at the breakdown and were lucky the score remained pointless at half time.
Southwell came out firing for the second half and soon broke the deadlock with a penalty 10 minutes in which was converted for a 3-0 lead.
This was the wake-up call Melton needed to realise they were in a contest.
Ably led by Leon Gormley and James Long, who both had excellent games, the visitors gradually came back into the match in spite of a whistle-happy referee who seemed determined to stop the game flowing.
Melton played with far more urgency and aggression and in the last 10 minutes Southwell’s scrum capitulated, resulting in a well-deserved penalty try.
Collins’ conversion made it 7-3 as Melton eked out a precious win to stay 16 points clear at the top.
Such a close-fought game should prove excellent preparation for Saturday’s Midlands Senior Vase semi-final.
Melton travel to Birmingham to take on strong opponents Woodrush, but if they are to progress both captain and coach will require a much better performance from their team.
Melton: Osborne (B. Prior 50), Badham (c), Brooks, Long, Wakefield, Crossland, Gormley, Morley, Glover, Rose, Williams, Radford, C. Prior, Collins, Warwick.