A superb all-round team display eased Melton into the Midlands semi-finals after a comfortable win against Warwickshire opponents.
In-form Bedworth arrived full of confidence, while Melton were dealt a late blow when Chris Rose was injured in the warm-up. This forced a reshuffle in the backs with Phil Stimson pressed into service at stand-off.
On a damp and chilly day with a wet and slippery ball, the visitors’ game plan was to keep it tight and play to their forward strengths. But Melton had more options across the team and a very tight defence.
Melton edged the tense opening exchanges as both sides weighed each other up, and went ahead after some good early attacks. When Bedworth were caught offside, Stimson’s first penalty wobbled over the crossbar.
The visitors had a winger yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on as Melton went close to scoring in the corner. Stimson increased the lead with a well-struck penalty.
Bedworth had few answers to Melton’s powerhouse performance, particularly in the loose where Leon Gormley was outstanding, snaffling every stray ball and tackling anything that moved. In the lineout, Dan Wakefield and Ryan Kemp stole opposition ball at will as Melton kept up the pressure with flowing passages of play.
Melton’s pack had their work cut out against a good set of forwards, especially in the set scrums, but stuck at it and James Stapleford and Dave Osborn attacked at every opportunity.
One such forward drive had Bedworth’s pack defending for their lives, and Sam Badham organised the maul to allow Carl Prior to get within inches of the line. Quick ball was then spun out for Stimson to dance his way through a small gap for a brilliant try. His conversion gave Melton a 13-0 half-time lead.
Bedworth re-emerged far more determined and only superb tackling from Prior and Gormley kept them out. Bedworth did their utmost to turn limited possession into points, but they were kept scoreless.
Despite the slippery conditions underfoot, Melton continued to string together wonderful passages of play with the forwards well-organised by scrum-half Duncan Lennox whose sniping runs were a constant threat.
Bobby Prior came on and made mincemeat of his opposite number as Melton’s pack drove Bedworth back several metres.
The hosts were penalised, but again drove for the line from Wakefield’s superb lineout take. When the ball was smuggled to the back of the rolling maul, Marcus Badham scored an excellent try on the blind side after an outrageous dummy.
Ben Warwick took every high ball at full-back as Bedworth chased the game, and Klay Radford and Prior were outstanding in the centre, while Wayne Brooks and Sam Badham gave their all in attack and defence.
Melton settled their nerves when the visiting centre was caught offside and man-of-the-match Stimson’s penalty made it 21-0.
Bedworth kept attacking, but Melton had the final say when Lennox’s box kick put the visitors in trouble. Prior followed up with a massive hit and hacked on the loose ball, allowing Harry Wood to gather and sprint in from halfway for a fitting final score.
Melton: J. Stapleford, M. Badham, D. Osborn, S. Badham, W. Brooks, L. Gormley, R. Kemp, D. Wakefield, D. Lennox, P. Stimson, K. Radford, C. Prior, H. Wood, Goose, B. Warwick, J. Long, B. Prior, S. Morley.