Melton RFC Under 12s entertained a big, well-drilled Loughborough side on a day of strong winds and heavy conditions.
It was always going to be more a test of brawn than agility, and Melton’s big guns came up trumps. Hardman, Tilston, Thorpe, Sharpe and Forde dominated a Loughborough pack who were very efficient at the breakdown and scrummage.
Mills, returning from long-term injury, showed what the team had been missing with some crunching tackles.
Against the stiff wind in the first half, Melton went a try down as the visitors’ pack freed their talented centres to break through the home defence.
The score spurred the boys on to bigger efforts, typified by strong carries from Walpole and Snodin.
Full-back Dorsett collected a defensive clearance on the halfway line and weaved through some static tackles to level the scores.
Melton applied more pressure after the break, and scored the winning try when great rucking from the forwards brought about a penalty for a high tackle on Sharpe.
Hardman’s quick-thinking from the tap penalty fed Neath on the wing who glided over in the corner to seal a 2-1 win.
* Melton’s confidence grew in game two as they realised that quick hands could counter Loughborough’s strong midfield better than going toe-to-toe in a mud fight.
Cropper was key at scrum-half as Melton secured quicker ball to put their opponents on the back foot. Starting against the wind, Melton went ahead after slick passing from Dickson, Thorpe and Dixon stretched play to the left wing where Neath’s pace finished a fine move.
Knott won a brilliant turnover with a solid tackle and ruck before a bulldozing run from Hardman was halted just short of the line. But his well-timed offload released Thorpe to break through two tackles to touch down.
Dickson was left kicking himself after a great dummy and solo effort put him clear, only to drop the slippery ball as he attempted to touch down under the posts.
But the next try soon came when Forde picked up a loose ball 20 metres out after Knott had again stolen the ball in a solid ruck. Forde’s jinking run down the blind side showed great awareness, and his direct running made it 3-0.
As Loughborough tired, Tilston exploited a gap in midfield to carve through for 4-0, and Dorsett did likewise moments later from deep to extend the lead.
But Melton saved their best move of the day for the final play as Attewell’s special tackle turned over possession again. Dickson flicked a clever pass out to Hardman who kept the move going before Dixon timed his pass perfectly for Neath to complete his hat-trick and a 6-0 rout.