Melton RFC rescue draw from 17-0 down at Belgrave

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Melton RFC First XV maintained their unbeaten start to the season, but only just after a thorough examination at local rivals Belgrave.

Playing at a venue which always proves to be a tough place to visit, Melton should perhaps take heart from showing the necessary resilience and character to salvage a draw from a game in which they trailed 17-0 at half-time.

The loss of their 100 per cent winning record dropped Melton to third position in a very competitive league table where only one point separates the top three.

Numerous absentees, through unavailability and injury, forced Melton to field a much-altered line-up, particularly in the three-quarters, but strength in depth in the current squad limited the disruption.

Matters were not helped by the loss of further personnel on the morning of the game and to injury during the match with Leon Gormley moving from the back row out to the wing for most of the game.

Perhaps it should have been no surprise when two early tries saw the hosts establish a 14-0 lead in as many minutes.

And a penalty later in the half put them 17-0 ahead.

Melton did have opportunities to get onto the scoresheet, but a series of penalties 10 metres away from the Belgrave line yielded neither a yellow card for the hosts nor any points for the visitors.

After the break, Melton were much improved and Mark Cox struck the penalty kick which marked the start of their comeback.

Cox soon added a fine solo try when he showed good pace from 40 metres out to cross for Melton’s first try which he subsequently converted.

Mark Matthews and Cox operated in tandem to keep Belgrave pinned into their half with a sensible kicking game, and it was no surprise when the away side added a second try to reduce the arrears to two points.

On this occasion, Bob Prior showed good determination to drive over from short range, but his unfortunate departure to injury soon after meant Christian Jeremiah was pressed into service from the Second XV fixture on the adjoining pitch.

Belgrave responded with a try of their own to re-establish a seven-point lead, but Melton were soon rewarded for some adventurous play.

Running the ball from deep out of their own half, James Woolley went 70 metres and left three defenders grasping at thin air to record a superb individual score.

Cox held his nerve with the conversion and the scores were level at 22-22.

Both sides had opportunities to snatch victory in the dying minutes. Harvey Green, who was imperious throughout after moving to the pivotal position of scrum-half, combined well with captain Marcus Badham at the front of a lineout, but was pulled up yards short of the line.

Belgrave had a difficult penalty attempt with the last kick of the game, but it missed and the honours ended even.