Mellish 1st XV 14 Pts V East Retford 1st XV 22 Pts
Retford travelled to Mellish to play their return league match full in the knowledge that having played them twice, once in the cup, a win would be a triple over their rivals equalling the teams’ feat over local rivals Worksop.
From the start having had a three week sabbatical Retford were a bit off the pace and were out of sorts in the set piece losing the first two scrums against the head putting themselves under early pressure. Turning the ball over several times Retford eased the pressure and a kick down the line by Dan Preece saw the home side putting pressure of their own on the defensive lineout.
Jordan Mee leaping like a salmon stole the lineout and as the ball went down the line Simon Phillips hit the gap to score a well worked try under the posts converted by Preece. However for the next ten minutes or so it was all the home side using a bump and run tactic even in the backs to pound their way up the field and eventually scored a converted try to draw level.
Both sides were locked in a stalemate as the play went one way then the other with neither side gaining much advantage before Retford were awarded a penalty but the long range attempt drifted wide. The referee gave a warning for too many penalties and unfortunately although only being offside from a kick through Ross Marsden was sent to the bin for a ten minute rest. The half came to an end with the scores still level at seven a piece.
From the start of the second half Retford started the brighter and were soon camped on the opposition line where several attempts were made to drive over. Jordan Mee looked like he had got there only to be held up before Joe Helliwell thundered over to score and take back the lead. From the kick off Mellish regained possession and moved the ball first one-way then the other before charging down the left-hand side of the pitch. Ross Marsden made a try saving tackle but the Mellish players were in support and went over in the corner where they gained the lead with a well struck conversion.
Play was halted for a short time as Marsden’s valiant tackle had left him unable to carry on and so the match was moved to an adjacent pitch whilst treatment was administered to prevent further injury. The Retford players were spurred on in an effort to win the match for their team mate and good forward and back interplay moved them down the field where pressure was rewarded with a penalty ably struck by Preece to take the lead by one point.
Direct running from the forwards gave space for Ben Wilson at fly half to put Preece through a gap who then ran from the halfway line stepping inside the covering fullback to score under the posts, adding the conversion to cement the lead. Although Mellish had a long range penalty to try to muster a bonus point it was pushed wide and strong tackling and good discipline meant that the team stayed strong for the remainder of the match.
Retford did have a chance to get the bonus point with some excellent forward play rumbling down the pitch but as the ball came to Helliwell with twenty-two metres to go he sniffed the line but it was just too far for him as he gave the ball up exhausted as the match came to an end. Man of the Match awarded by Mellish went to Captain Danny Preece for an excellent performance and Coach Nick Brough awarded the man of the match for the backs to Craig Tong who returned from University to put in a great performance.