Melton RFC’s search for a first league win of the season continued as ill discipline cost them dear at fellow Midlands One East strugglers Leighton Buzzard on Saturday.
Buzzards kicked off with the benefit of the slope, but Melton drew first blood after a great run from player-coach Gareth Collins in midfield.
It began a well-worked backs move which released Ollie Circuit to score in the corner after seven minutes, but the conversion narrowly missed.
Ten minutes later Jake Wheeler’s penalty pulled the hosts back to 3-5.
Melton looked the more threatening in an even first 20 minutes, but that was to change dramatically as Buzzards scored three unanswered tries in an eight-minute burst before half-time.
Firstly a great break by winger Harri Sayer took Leighton from inside their half to just short of the Melton line.
He was stopped, but the ball was recycled for Mike Lynch to crash over, and Jake Wheeler’s conversion made it 10-5.
Six minutes later a penalty was kicked to the corner, and when the catch-and-drive from the lineout was held up, the ball was spun out for Buzzards winger James Pratt to scythe through Melton’s defence to score under the posts.
And with less than a minute of the half left, Harri Sayer ran from his own 22, carving open the surprised Melton defence and going two-thirds of the pitch before being tackled just short.
The recycled ball was driven forward by Owen Forsyth before scrum-half James Brett jinked over to leave Melton trailing 22-5 at the break.
Buzzards almost extended their lead straight after the restart when captain Jack Whitehouse was tackled just short after a 50-metre break.
And they did so after 12 minutes, gaining a bonus point fourth try, when Brett reacted to a loose ball and hacked through from halfway.
When possession was regained, fly-half Wheeler’s clever inside ball found rampaging second row Owen Forsyth to charge over from 10 metres. Wheeler’s conversion made it 29-5.
Despite trailing by 24 points, Melton RFC responded well as their big forwards continued to cause difficulties in open play and at the scrum.
Melton winger James Woolley jinked over on the hour mark, and four minutes later he scored again.
With one conversion, the visitors had cut the lead to 29-17.
Pratt’s second try with 10 minutes left calmed home nerves, and Brett’s touchline conversion made the score 36-17.
But there was still time for Melton to gain a bonus point through a penalty try, awarded when the home scrum was adjudged to have collapsed close to their line, as the game finished 36-24.
Melton’s First XV host Lutterworth at Burton Road on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Melton: Brooks, Badham, Stone, Badham, Long, Wakefield, Gormley, Miller, Lennox, Green, Woolley, Collins, Radford, Circuit, Williams, Warwick, Rose, Forfar.