Melton RFC withstood a ferocious Bugbrooke fightback to maintain their impressive home record at Burton Road.
The First XV were coasting at 22-5 up early in the second half after chalking up their fourth try, but they were left clinging on to register their 10th home win out of 11 this season.
A robust and competitive Bugbrooke side had won the reverse fixture in Northamptonshire, but home advantage is proving a godsend to Melton in a high quality league.
Both sides served up some outstanding rugby in a rollercoaster match, but also some shoddy passages of play as ill discipline and inaccuracy crept into the play of both teams.
Spurred on by a large home support, Melton were brilliant for the first 20 minutes, attacking with purpose and fluidity, while totally dominating the scrum and lineout.
Most of the battles at the breakdown were also won by the hosts thanks to the excellent Leon Gormley, supported by man-of-the-match Simon Peters.
The early domination put Melton ahead through well-worked tries from Adam Woolley and Harry Wood for a deserved 10-0 advantage.
Sporadic bursts from Bugbrooke showed they were still in the game, but the home side’s dominant scrummaging earned another penalty after several collapses at the defensive rucks.
Peters did score, but the official awarded a penalty try for continued infringements, giving Matt Cox an easy conversion in front of the posts.
Bugbrooke were 17-0 adrift, but showed their resilience just before half-time with a try on the counter-attack as the hosts switched off.
Melton lost the influential Gormley at the break to a head injury, but great work from Kieran Stone, Marcus Badham and Harvey Green put the hosts in for their bonus-point score as Woolley crossed the whitewash out wide once more.
At 22-5, Melton’s lead looked unassailable, but from total domination in the scrum, they began to concede penalties and put themselves in trouble.
The visitors struck twice, once when Melton decided to run the ball out of their own 22, before capitalising on a poor kick as their big centres began to cause problems.
From comfortable bonus point winners, Melton were now just five points ahead, but they seemed incapable of steadying the ship despite great defensive work from Peters, Rose and Woolley.
With five minutes left, Bugbrooke were awarded a penalty which they elected to convert and duly reduced the deficit to 22-20.
The hosts clung on for dear life as Woolley’s brilliant cover tackle at the death finally sealed victory.
Melton remain sixth, level on points with Huntingdon and only five points adrift of fourth-placed Lutterworth.
On Saturday, they travel to second-bottom Dronfield who are on a run of four straight defeats and were beaten 39-7 at Burton Road in November.