Melton RFC secured a third consecutive season of Midlands One rugby as they completed the double over Northampton Old Scouts on Saturday.
Following the disappointing defeat at Wellingborough, Melton still cast a few anxious glances over their shoulders in what was for most sides in the league the final weekend of the season.
But Gareth Collins’ side ended any doubts with a well-deserved victory after an all-round team effort of real class.
On a perfect afternoon for running rugby, Melton made a rapid start, producing some fluid passages of play.
The forwards were rampant, with the second row pair of James Long and Nick Crossland making massive inroads in attack.
Matt Cox went close with a trademark shimmy and scuttle for the line, but he was stopped short.
However, the first try soon came following a set move, established by a sound platform by the pack.
Will Helliwell injected pace from full-back with a break down the blind side, and with Harvey Green tackled inches from the line, Chris Rose picked up and cleverly dived over the maul to score out wide.
Soon after the Old Scouts winger rashly took Green out in the air as he leapt for a catch and was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
Cox’s delicious kick to the corner resulted in an attacking scrum. A concerted shove gave Tom Allen time to pick up and drive, and his astute flick found Rose who had Harry Wood in support for another try in the corner.
With confidence growing, Melton kept up the pressure, unlike the previous week, with some fine attacking play and flowing moves.
Wood stole possession from his opposite number following Rose’s clever chip over the defence, and the supporting Marcus Badham plunged over for a deserved try.
The final move of the half started with a tremendous tackle by Ollie Circuit who also ripped the ball away. He set Will Helliwell away and only a last-ditch tackle by Dean Lake prevented the try and kept Melton’s half-time lead at 15-0.
The visitors started the second half in the same vein with some sublime attacking play and excellent support work.
Old Scouts’ scrambled defence kept the score down until a penalty was conceded for offside and Green slotted the kick which was scant reward for a lot of pressure.
The hosts got on the scoreboard with a well-executed move from a scrum. Quick hands give Alex McKie a clear run to the line for a converted try (18-7).
An accidental clash saw Allen knocked out and require lengthy treatment.
Dan Evans went on as replacement and made his presence felt immediately with some well-judged runs, supported by Elliott Kelsall who had another fine game in the back row.
Helliwell made another timely burst into the line and his mazy run left the defence floundering, but the final pass went astray.
The evergreen Dave Osborne came on in the front row, and from an attacking lineout deep in Old Scouts territory, Kelsall offloaded to back row partner Leon Gormley to dart over for a fine bonus-point try.
Old Scouts attacked at every opportunity and only stunning tackling from Klay Radford and Circuit kept them out.
A well-worked Scouts maul was stopped just short, but the resulting attacking scrum was thwarted by an almighty shove from the Melton forwards.
Kieron Stone, having another immense game at prop, had his opposite number in all sorts of trouble, giving Badham the chance to take a strike against the head and relieve the pressure.
The ball was worked upfield by the forwards with some outstanding close support play, and just when the attack appeared to be breaking down, Cox struck with an audacious drop goal.
Straight from the kick-off Old Scouts scrambled over for a converted try.
But the restart brought one of Melton’s finest tries of the season when an attempted chip kick was well read by Wood.
Badham took the pass and burst through some loose tackling before Stone took the ball at pace and a glorious one-handed pass out of the tackle sent Dave Osborne through to scamper over for a stunning try.
Green added the simplest of conversions to cap a fine win.
* Melton are due to complete the season on Saturday for a twice-rearranged trip to relegated Huntingdon (ko 3pm).