Melton RFC endured a tough afternoon in their final home match of the season against a very organised and well supported Kettering side who look destined for a higher level.
The Northamptonshire club are pushing hard for promotion back into the national leagues and have swept almost all before them, including a free-flowing win against Melton in the reverse fixture which defied the wet and dismal conditions.
On a warm afternoon made for running rugby, the visitors started brightly with exemplary off-loading and support play.
Their first score came after an early missed tackle and good backing up, and they nearly scored again shortly after, but the winger knocked on with the line at his mercy.
Kettering’s fly-half gave a masterclass in kicking and passing, showing why he had played at a much higher level for Saracens Academy.
It was a similar story with other members of their side who had also experienced life in the higher echelons of senior rugby.
Melton made every effort to respond early on and Leon Gormley made a searing break, well supported by Kieran Stone and Marcus Badham.
Duncan Lennox read the play well and a switch of direction and slick passing brought Mark Matthews into the line from full-back. Harvey Green came off his wing to add the extra man and quick hands gave Harry Wood just enough room to squeeze into the corner to narrow the gap to two points.
Kettering responded immediately with slick handling at pace to score on an overlap out wide, capped by a fine conversion.
From the restart, Melton camped on the visitors’ line with a series of scrums which never quite paid off, and when a clearance kick took a very lucky bounce, the Kettering winger had enough room to outpace the cover for a fortunate score.
The visitors proceeded to dominate almost every phase of play to add two further scores and conversions for a sizeable lead.
Straight from one of the restarts the visitors inexplicably allowed the ball to bounce and Dan Wakefield pounced to score a fine individual try.
But it counted for little when, just on the stroke of half-time, the Kettering fly-half sold a soft dummy to score all too easily for a commanding 42-10 lead.
It was going to take a monumental effort to turn the game around and Melton started very brightly in the opening exchanges of the second half.
But despite a lot of pressure they could not capitalise against good defence from Kettering who scored yet another try from a rolling maul thanks to their powerful forwards.
Melton came back with a solid scrum platform and Klay Radford set up his fellow centre Carl Prior with a sweetly timed pass. Prior outpaced the cover and an arcing run saw him score in the corner.
But the final word was Kettering’s when the hooker scored from a turnover in broken play as the heat and pace of the game took its toll on the hosts.
Melton: K. Stone, M. Badham, C. Loveday, D. Meakin, D. Wakefield, L. Gormley, S. Peters, K. Bugby, D. Lennox, M. Cox, K. Radford, C. Prior, H. Green, H. Wood, M. Matthews, D. Belcher, D. Osborne, A. Brookes.