Melton moved up to fourth in Midlands One East as they finished the year on a high with a performance of real grit and great character against Lutterworth.
The hosts were determined to make amends for their poor away form and earn bragging rights in this Leicestershire derby after suffering a narrow defeat at Lutterworth early in the season.
The talismanic Sam Badham was injured in the warm-up, but his replacement Simon Peters rose magnificently to the occasion, tackling his heart out all afternoon.
Lutterworth began strongly and put Melton under early pressure as they attacked at every opportunity, but well-organised defence and superb tackling kept them out.
Melton finally showed some mettle when a maul in midfield saw Wayne Brookes appear out of nowhere and take the ball at pace to catch the defence napping.
He made good ground and Dan Evans read the play well to take the final pass and score out wide. Matt Cox’s conversion attempt struck the post.
Leon Gormley was unfortunate to get a yellow card for an infringement, but the visitors could not take advantage against stout defence with some particularly crunching tackles from Marcus Badham and Dan Wakefield.
Matt Cox’s long-range penalty bounced off the crossbar, but he soon made amends when a fumble following a lineout saw a lucky bounce fall into his midriff. A flick-on to Klay Radford saw the centre break through to score, with Cox adding the extras.
This lead gave Melton real heart and they played some scintillating rugby with both wingers, Harry Wood and the impressive Aiden Brooks making life difficult for Lutterworth every time they got the ball.
The pressure told when a penalty was conceded and Melton opted for the scrum. Kieran Stone, a rock all afternoon, had his opposite number in trouble at every scrum, and a well-organised drive from the set piece gave Chris Rose enough room to dive over from close range.
Cox’s simple conversion established a 19-0 half-time lead.
Playing up the slope, Melton continued to show sheer will and desire right from the restart.
A good clearing kick out of defence was well taken by Gareth Collins on halfway and his superb piece of attacking play left several defenders floundering.
Carl Prior read the right line and took play into the 22 and then popped a sublime pass for Collins to finish the move he had started.
Lutterworth continued to attack at every opportunity, and there was a lengthy delay when their winger injured his ankle close to Melton’s try line.
Despite the setback they scored a good try out wide with flair and good support play.
Chris Rose then spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for not rolling away at the breakdown having made some stunning tackles in defence.
The dominance of Melton’s pack continued as Marcus Badham took a ball against the head which caught the home side unawares as a stray pass bobbled in midfield.
Radford pounced on the loose ball, and side-stepped the covering tackles to sprint in and score a brilliant solo try out of nowhere. Cox’s conversion added gloss to the afternoon.
But Lutterworth had the final say when the open side flanker scored in the corner.
Melton: G. Collins, H. Wood, A. Brooks, K. Radford, C. Prior, M. Cox, C. Rose, W. Brookes, M. Badham, K. Stone, D. Wakefield, K. Bugby, L. Gormley, S. Peters, D. Evans, D. Lennox, A. Chambers, D. Osborne.