Melbourne Prevail in Tight Affair
Guts for glory as Melbourne convert last gasp penalty
Melbourne 21-19 Stourbridge
Melbourne welcomed Stourbridge Lions to Nottingham Trent University for a key clash. Off the back of a rusty yet dogged display against Stoke the week before, the green and gold welcomed Oliver Page, James Lockhart and Andy Martin back to the squad and a debut to recent recruit Joe Livesey.
Stourbridge played with the wind and slope first half.
The lions themselves saw many changes from the reverse fixture that had been played earlier in the season and the squad assembled in front of Melbourne looked physical, fit and accurate with ball in hand.
The first twenty minutes showed two teams both trying to play running rugby and spread the ball wide. The visitors were clinical in moving the ball wide but Melbourne made early errors which ultimately cost field position.
There were immediate positives for Melbourne as they edged both scrum and line-out but it was Stourbridge who took an early 0 -12 lead through excellent forward and back interplay in what were similar scores.
Melbourne are a team evolving however and they recognised what they needed to do. Defence was tightened up and attack was re-directed speeding up the tempo. It wasn't long before a try prevailed following multiple phases by the hard working forwards and some excellent attacking lines being run by the green and gold backline. The prominent performance of Alec Judge and Jack Percival saw Melbourne begin to dominate the contact exchanges and a drive over try by Alec Judge was awarded wide right of the posts. Joe Livesey at fullback ran lovely evasive lines and caused the opposition concern when on the ball.
The game was a tight affair, for the full eighty minutes, and both sides went through stages where they appeared to edge into an advantage but it was the Lions who kept ahead on the score board and that was what mattered.
Discipline was however turning in favour of Melbourne, both sides received yellow cards - Stark for Melbourne following a high tackle and Lions second row for foul play, but as the tension built so did the penalty count and Melbourne converted two chances to begin to claw back the scoreline.
A second score for Melbourne mid-second half was well earned having been unlucky not to convert an earlier chance following excellent defence by the Lions on their tryline. Melbourne had begun to assert their dominance and were managing the game better than in the first half and using the natural slope of the pitch.
It was once again Judge who touched down beneath the posts but preceding this there was excellent work by Nightingale and Coyne as well as a sniping run at pace by Martin to take the ball within a yard of the line for Judge to finish.
The game was turning into a battlefield with the scores at 18 - 19. Bodies were being rocked and floored by the ferocity of hits with Percival Stephenson and Pearce all giving and receiving the best and worst of the hits. It was a tense finale but Melbourne were patient and were focussed on retaining possession when it came there way. With the last minute ticking down Melbourne had a scrum from which they built the phases and momentum centrally down the pitch - with pressure building an attempted turnover was made by Lions but the ref blew up as he adjudged an attempted turnover to be illegal.
With the last kick of the game Captain Holden kicked a penalty superbly to steal the victory and points for Melbourne.
Trys - Alec Judge (2)
Euan Holden - 11 points