Melton RFC County Cup: Reaction and photo spread

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Underdogs Melton RFC produced a fairytale finish to win their maiden county cup honours after a thrilling final at Welford Road on Tuesday.

A large travelling support were rewarded for making the short trip down the A607 with a performance of supreme character, fitness and endeavour against opponents who had won promotion to National League Two on Saturday.

Melton RFC celebrate with the Leicestershire Senior County Cup at Welford Road EMN-160405-112448002

Melton RFC celebrate with the Leicestershire Senior County Cup at Welford Road EMN-160405-112448002

“It’s an absolute dream dome true,” said president Rob Goldthorpe. “It is a huge thing just to get here, but then to win it with the last kick.

“On top of the season we have had, you couldn’t have scripted it. It was a Leicester City type of win.”

For head coach Gareth Collins and skipper Marcus Badham it was a culmination of two years of work to right a listing ship.

The performance also offered encouraging signs for the greater challenge that lies ahead next season in Midlands One after two successive promotions.

Skipper Marcus Badham gets his team on the front foot as Melton made a flying start against Hinckley EMN-160405-114626002

Skipper Marcus Badham gets his team on the front foot as Melton made a flying start against Hinckley EMN-160405-114626002

Collins spent three seasons with the Leicester Tigers early in his career, but admitted the atmosphere and the crowd marked a new highlight for him.

“It was such a rollercoaster of a game,” he said. “The first 10 minutes gave us huge confidence.

“They put us under pressure, but we stayed competitive and hung in there all game.

“We thought we had missed the opportunity with two minutes to go, but what a way to win it.

Melton's well-drilled lineout routine proved crucial to their cup final success EMN-160405-114609002

Melton's well-drilled lineout routine proved crucial to their cup final success EMN-160405-114609002

“I thought we would be good enough, it was just whether we could do it under pressure and I’m chuffed that we did.

“We’ve played better rugby this season, but the intensity and endeavour was higher than it’s been all season.”

Collins added: “Our target was to get promoted next year, but to do that a season early and win the county cup is unbelievable.

“It’s nothing short of what we deserve for how hard we have worked for the last two years.”

Chairman John Hill with head coach Gareth Collins who shows the scars after guiding his team to a gutsy cup final win EMN-160405-115636002

Chairman John Hill with head coach Gareth Collins who shows the scars after guiding his team to a gutsy cup final win EMN-160405-115636002

It was an emotional night for many Melton club officials who had seen the club plunge to the fourth tier of Midlands rugby just two seasons ago.

“What a fantastic night for us,” said chairman John Hill. “Melton are the county champions; who would’ve thought it?

“Hinckley were a good side. They weren’t at full-strength, we were aware of that, but we played the team that was put in front of us.

“We matched them fitness-wise and our defence was outstanding. The whole team tackled their hearts out.

“You can’t do these things without a team. The backroom staff, everyone, has been absolutely first class.”