A much-changed Melton eased to another big bonus point win on Saturday as they marched ever closer to the title.
A heavy injury toll from the Midlands Vase semi-final win forced a major reshuffle, but the performance bore out the depth, quality and resolve of Melton’s first team squad.
The reverse fixture had been a tight affair which Melton came close to throwing away, and Moderns began with great energy.
A spell of home pressure forced a lineout and superb steal by Dan Wakefield, and a driving maul which was stopped just short of the line. Chris Rose, at scrum-half, spotted the smallest of gaps to dive over for a try, converted by Phil Stimson.
Melton strung phases together through wonderful interplay among the forwards with James Long and Dave Osborn prominent in attack. Quick passing then gave Ben Warwick room to create an overlap for Tom Kempin who streaked away to score in the corner.
Moderns had no answer to Melton’s speed of thought, particularly from Nick Crossland and debutant Lewis Moult.
The visitors conceded several penalties at the breakdown as they tried to stem the tide. Rose’s clever dart and shimmy from broken play earned a well-deserved try with Stimson adding the extras.
Melton’s great energy led to more quick passing, and Klay Radford left defenders trailing in his wake with a superbly-timed run to cross. Stimson again converted.
The forwards got in on the act when Ryan Kemp broke from a set scrum, powered through ineffectual tackling and fed Lewis Glover out wide. He cut back inside and found Crossland up in support who crashed over. Stimson converted.
Radford was released for another mazy run to add an impressive try to his tally, and Stimson’s conversion gave Melton a commanding 40-0 half-time lead.
Moderns knew they had a mountain to climb in the second half against a mean Melton defence which has conceded very few tries this season. Sound tackling kept Moderns out, as Kemp and Moult, who had a fine game, made their dangerous number eight work hard to cross the gain line.
Stimson controlled things from fly-half with raking kicks downfield, while Rose and Harry Wood chased down everything to keep the play in Moderns half.
The second half stalemate was broken when Carl Prior made another well-judged break from deep, and brushed off several tackles to score under the posts. Stimson converted.
Wayne Brooks made several inroads with strong breaks which took several players to stop, to set up good ball for further attacks. Radford was the main beneficiary as he completed his hat-trick to earn the man-of-the-match award.
The final word came from the forwards as Wakefield took the lineout and set up a powerful driving maul which few sides have been able to repel. After driving Nottingham back several metres, Marcus Badham peeled round to score a fine try.
With only five league matches left, Melton lead by 16 points and appear unstoppable.
Melton: W. Brooks, M. Badham, D. Osborn, J. Long, D. Wakefield, N. Crossland, R. Kemp, L. Moult, C. Rose, P. Stimson, C. Prior, K. Radford, L. Glover, B. Warwick, T. Kempin, H. Wood, B. Prior, S. Grindey.