Melton RFC head coach Gareth Collins has hailed his side’s achievements as the First XV secured what is thought to be the highest league finish in the club’s history.
Despite ending the season with four defeats in their last five outings, including Saturday’s 30-22 loss at Leighton Buzzard, Melton finished the campaign sixth in Midlands One East.
The squad has come a long way in a short space of time following back-to-back promotions.
“I’m delighted with our top six finish following two successive promotions,” Collins said.
“I believe it is the highest-ever league position the club has achieved.
“Unfortunately performances and results have deteriorated in the latter part of the season, but I believe we will learn from this experience.
“We played many sides latterly who were playing for promotion or survival and I think, subconsciously, this was very difficult for us.
“But I think we will be better prepared for this level of opposition and will be better equipped next season as coaches and players to challenge the top sides.”
Collins underlined the contribution of Kieron Stone, newly signed last summer, made to Melton as they adapted to life at a higher level.
But he is equally encouraged by the strength in depth developed right here.
He said: “There have been a number of outstanding performers, but Kieron Stone has shone throughout, showing his class and experience.
“The number of homegrown players progressing from the Colts and coming through the second team means our squad is getting stronger every year.
“On top of Harvey Green and Harry Wood, who continue to impress, we have seen Aiden Brooks, Dan Evans, Simon Peters, Josh Heywood, Jack Rudkin and Charlie Loveday all break into the first team squad.”
But in the meantime there are still honours to chase and a chance to finish the season on another enormous high.
The squad returns to Welford Road on Tuesday, May 9 to defend their Senior County Cup, won so memorably for the first time last May against National League side Hinckley.
This time they face more National League Three opponents in Syston, but while Hinckley were on the way to promotion last year, their local rivals have finished bottom of the division.
But Collins and his team will not underestimate the scale of the challenge that their derby rivals will present.
“We are working hard in training for the challenge that Syston pose,” he added.
“To beat another side from a higher level and retain the county cup would be an outstanding end to another successful season.”