Melton served up a first-class performance in attack and defence to secure a stunning victory against Midlands Two title rivals Lutterworth on Saturday.
The storm-force winds at Burton Road didn’t take away from a high quality game which took Gareth Collins’ side three points clear at the top.
Lutterworth’s large pack started at pace, running the ball from set piece and broken play, but Melton’s tackling was brutally effective as the recalled Klay Radford and Sam Badham made some massive hits.
Gareth Collins was yellow-carded early on when deemed to have deliberately fallen offside to prevent a try. Marcus Badham rallied his team to attack, but from broken play an unwise pass was intercepted and Lutterworth went ahead with a converted breakaway try.
The game was nip-and-tuck as both sides probed for a way through.
Radford’s superb break undid the tight marking in midfield, and Collins read it superbly to take a well-timed pass and side-step the opposition. Marcus Badham was on hand to accept the final pass and score a wonderful try. Matt Cox’s conversion levelled the scores.
Chris Rose then spotted an overlap out wide, and Mark Matthews’ injection of pace from full-back gave James Woolley space to show his speed on the wing.
Woolley feinted inside and left his opposition number for dead with an outside break before a deft side-step and fierce pace beat the covering defence as he streaked in for a fine try.
Lutterworth hit back strongly, using the wind to good effect, but Melton grew in confidence.
A scrum near the visitors’ line was disrupted by a powerful shove from Bob Prior, Marcus Badham and Wayne Brookes, and when Lutterworth failed to take the loose ball, Lee Miller pounced for an opportunist try. Cox added the tricky conversion for a 19-7 lead.
Lutterworth upped the pace as they searched for a way back, but their attacks were thwarted by some judicious tackling, especially from Leon Gormley who produced another stunning display of destructive tackling.
Brave adventure was finally rewarded when Melton’s backs were caught offside and a penalty reduced the deficit.
Melton responded, but another wayward pass in the strong wind led to a fumble and a second breakaway try for Lutterworth.
Nearing half-time, a rolling maul orchestrated by Ryan Kemp caught the visitors off-guard. Rose broke on the blind side and cleverly slipped the ball to Harry Wood who showed his pace to conjure a try out of nothing. Cox added the extras for a 26-17 half-time lead.
With the next score all-important, Melton showed their steely determination straightaway with a powerful break by Dan Wakefield, well-supported by fellow second row Sam Badham.
A strong scrum had Lutterworth’s pack in trouble with Prior giving his prop a torrid time. The resulting penalty was quickly taken by Miller who caught the defence napping to thunder through for a terrific second try.
Harvey Green replaced Radford in the backs and Christian Jeremiah added his weight in the pack as Melton continued to pressure the Lutterworth line with wonderful flowing rugby with only last-ditch defence denying them.
Gormley ripped the ball away from a Lutterworth maul and Rose made another quick break from scrum-half on the blind side.
A simple pop pass freed winger Woolley whose stunning break left defenders trailing yet again to complete his brace of tries.
Lutterworth continued to run the ball back, but were left chasing the game as superb defensive kicking by Cox and Rose kept them pinned in their own half.
A perfect tonic ahead of Saturday’s trip to Market Harborough who leapfrogged Lutterworth into second place. Kick-off is 2.15pm.
Melton: B. Prior, M. Badham, W. Brookes, D. Wakefield, S. Badham, R. Kemp, L. Miller, L. Gormley, C. Rose, M. Cox, K. Radford, G. Collins, J. Woolley, H. Wood, M. Matthews, H. Green, C. Jeremiah, R. Foster.