Melton RFC maintained their seven-point lead at the top of Midlands Two East (South), but were made to battle against a spirited Peterborough side.
After last week’s impressive win at Olney, the Firsts were hoping to build further momentum as they head towards the final third of the season, but were stifled at times by visitors aiming to disrupt their hosts at every opportunity.
Penalties were given away freely by both sides throughout a scrappy game.
The first was awarded against Peterborough for not releasing in a ruck and this brought Melton’s first try when Marcus Badham’s quick tap from 15 metres out found Mark Matthews to cross in the right corner after 15 minutes. Cox’s conversion attempt fell just short.
From the re-start, player-coach Gareth Collins was penalised for holding on after a good break down the left wing.
After an exchange of clearing kicks, Cox was unlucky to misfield a high ball 40 metres out and Peterborough’s speedy centre capitalised on the error to touch down unopposed between the posts for a converted try.
Melton had the clear advantage in the scrummage, while the lineouts were pretty even, but the home side was guilty of conceding possession freely in contact as their frustration grew.
Matthews was as sharp as ever and put Melton in a great position with a clearing kick to the right corner.
Good follow-up work by Dennison and Gormley forced a knock-on, and from the resulting scrum, the Peterborough number eight was yellow-carded for collapsing the scrum.
A wise decision by Badham to take another scrum allowed Foster to touch down for a 10–7 lead with 35 minutes gone.
Cox used his vision to continually put the ball behind the opposition, and from one lineout the ball was pinched and passed to Woolley who raced down the wing. He was halted just short by a high tackle from five metres out, and once more Peterborough had no answer to Melton’s superiority in the scrum as the hosts were awarded a penalty try and conversion.
Leading 17-7 going into the second half, Melton were penalised 10 minutes in for knocking on and then holding on. Peterborough’s number 10 kicked the penalty to reduce the deficit to 17–10.
Melton raised their game and good defensive work by Cowley allowed them to pinch the ball again. Cox’s lovely kick put Melton within 15 metres of the Peterborough line and after a knock-on and scrum, Rose darted in the corner for a 22-10 lead.
After 36 minutes the hosts put together their best passage of play when Cox fielded a clearing kick. Rose was in support to take the pass and great inter-passing saw Foster go over in the corner for the bonus point try.
To their credit Peterborough had the last word with a try out wide after more good interplay following another Melton knock-on.
Melton: Brooks, M. Badham, R. Prior, S. Badham, Cowley, Dennison, Gormley, Foster, Rose, Cox, Woolley, G. Prior, Collins, Warwick, Matthews, Broughton, Osbourne, Moult.
* On Saturday, Melton travel to bottom side Rushden and Higham for a 2.15pm kick-off.