Melton Mowbray RFC Third XV travelled the distance to Market Bosworth to resume their Merit League campaign on Saturday.
Some familiar faces joined the line-up, including hooker Prior and new boy Heyward, and desperate to secure league points, Melton showed their dominance from the off.
Strong attacking play from Bowles and Potter made the valuable yards upfield, and after the forwards used good phase play to crash through the Bosworth 22, Simpson powered through the back line for a try under the posts.
Melton continued to attack for much of the first half with short play from the crashing forwards as Wardaugh and White made their presence known.
Strong link-up play between Parker and Horne saw the ball move out to the backs where Miller penetrated the back line.
But Bosworth quickly picked up on Melton’s tactics and slow movement to the rucks allowed Bosworth to take possession and move the ball out to the fringes of the field to score their first points.
Continuing in this vein, Bosworth added another five points to their tally through a quickly-taken lineout, and the set-piece gave the hosts another try despite the throw not being straight and the ball appearing to be knocked on over the line.
Melton kept their heads up and continued to fight up the field where Cunningham saw some action on the wing.
A strong defensive line thwarted the hosts and Keightley’s excellent rucking ensured Melton held their own until half-time with the home side leading 22-7.
Substitute Thorpe gave the forwards some much-needed youth and power for the second half, but weak defence allowed Bosworth to open the floodgates as Melton spent a lot of the time stood under their own posts.
With an hour gone, the game was over for Melton, but there was still pride to play for.
Something finally clicked for the visitors as they started to rediscover their early dominance as heroic cover tackles from Wright and Dickinson denied Bosworth’s attack further points.
More Melton changes brought Towell back into the pack to add some runs and crash balls through the centre and give Melton the ground they needed.
Bowles again came onto the ball and danced through most of the back line, followed up by Miller.
A cheeky pick-up from the back of a ruck saw Parker break free and run the length of the pitch only to be brought down by a high tackle just yards from the line.
The subsequent penalty was taken quickly by Prior who sold a couple of dummy passes to edge Melton closer to the line.
A scrum inside Bosworth’s 22 saw Kerr pick up at eight and crash through for Melton’s second score.
Further runs upfield from Simpson and several others allowed Kerr to add another two tries and complete his hat-trick, but it was all too little, too late as the final whistle went.
It was a stunning loss for Melton, finishing 70-22 which did not accurately reflect the game and the strength and determination Melton continued to show, playing right to the very end and keeping their heads held high when they could’ve easily just have given up.
That was testament to the team and the club, to play the full 80 minutes, regardless of the score, but for the sheer enjoyment of playing.
Every player on the field put in a performance and had their time to shine before enjoying post-match jugs of beer – Kerr’s’ forfeit for his hat-trick.
Melton Third XV return to action in a friendly at Southwell on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm).