Melton complete League and Cup Double
Emphatic Midlands Senior Vase win sees Melton one step away from Twickenham
By Rob Goldthorpe
RFU Senior Vase - Midlands Final
Vipers 5 Melton 46
Having won the league in such emphatic fashion last week Melton travelled over to Leicester for the Midlands final against a team they have not played against in recent seasons but who have put together a string of good results lately. Melton knew they had to be on their game right from the start and concentrate for the full 80 minutes.
Thankfully the weather stayed dry but with a gusting wind to cope with blowing across the large pitch. Melton started the match with real intensity straight from the kick off which had the home team back pedalling and tackling for all they were worth as they tried to stem the tide of attacks from every phase of play. There were a whole string of early penalties as Vipers infringed at the breakdown as they simply had no answer to the ferocious assault from the Melton pack. The first few penalties were eminently kick able but the chances were spurned in favour of attacking line outs. Ryan Kemp was imperious in the line out as he took the ball cleanly and set up driving mauls the second of which drove the Vipers back several metres and Marcus Badham scored a superb forwards try with the resulting conversion drifting inches wide.
The next score followed shortly after when a well worked scrum ball was spun out quickly by Chris Rose and Phil Stimson worked a switch with Carl Prior. Carl had a lot to do to cope with the rush defence but he spun round and through the tackles and powered his way over the line for a wonderful try. Phil Stimson slotted the conversion for an early lead of 12-0 within the first 20 minutes.
Another line out ball stolen by Sam Badham deep in Vipers half was worked into midfield where a clever miss move left Klay Radford the space to carve through the defence with a scintillating run. He was well tackled by the full back but had the presence of mind to pop the ball up to Nick Crossland who had read the play well to be there in support and romped in for another top drawer try and Phil Stimson slotted the conversion.
Having established a decent lead Melton upped the pace and played with real confidence as they spun the ball wide at every phase with Klay Radford causing all sorts of problems in the centre. Lewis Moult was everywhere with Wayne Brooks keen to make inroads in the defence. Chris Rose was there to lend support at the break down to keep the ball moving with some fine lengthy passes. Vipers were forced into conceding a string of penalties as they simply had no answer to the power play and speed of the Melton pack. A quickly taken tap penalty released Carl Prior on another powerful break as he brushed aside tacklers. The ever present Leon Gormley was quickly up in support as he took a well timed pop pass and sprinted in for a try under the posts with Stimson adding the conversion.
Melton then reverted to type with some battering runs from the forwards notably by James Stapleford and Nick Crossland who made the hard yards in attack. It was from a storming run by Brooks that had the defence in completed confusion and his fellow prop Stapleford was up in close support to reach out at full stretch and score a try out wide. Amazingly the well struck conversion from Stimson bounced off the upright. He made amends shortly afterwards when Vipers strayed off side yet again and Stimson slotted the penalty to give a healthy gloss to the half time score of 34-0.
The coaching team made sure that Melton maintained the focus on the job in hand with the tricky swirling wind to face in the second half. Vipers came out determined to claw their way back into the game but it was an early break from Ben Warwick from full back that released Tom Kempin on the wing as he used his pace to outstrip the covering defence and it was only a last ditch tackle that kept him out.
Leon Gormley was having a blinding game at open side flanker as he kept stealing the ball at the breakdown to force a turnover. The tackling of the whole back row of Gormley, Moult and Crossland frustrated Vipers and two yellow cards for the home team were the result as they simply had no answers. The intensity of Melton's dominance eased off somewhat so Duncan Lennox and Dave Osborn were introduced to add some fresh impetus and the result was more pressure with Ryan Kemp whipping out a pass to Carl Prior who made a half break and then simply turned on the burners as he accelerated through the gap to score a stunning try.
To be fair to Vipers they never gave up and their front row were one of the best that Melton have encountered this season as they made the visitors work hard. They were chasing the game at this stage but were determined not to surrender. A concerted phase of pressure gave them an overlap out wide for a deserving score as they stretched the Melton defence despite Lewis Glovers desperate covering tackle.
The final word came inevitably from the Melton forwards who had been magnificent all afternoon and tireless in their work rate. Vipers tried their best to stem the tide but yet another driving maul made several metres and not unsurprisingly the captain Marcus Badham was on hand to dive over for the resulting try. The wind then knocked the ball off the tee as Stimson attempted the conversion so he did no more than sweetly stroke over a drop goal conversion.
Sam Grindey and Adam Chambers provided some much needed fresh legs in the final 10 minutes as a tiring Vipers pack tried to make their mark but it was a fantastic win by Melton who had simply swept them away in every phase of play and dominated utterly to lift the Midlands cup and win the much coveted double to start an evening of celebration for a magnificent team effort.
Team: James Stapleford Marcus Badham Wayne Brooks Sam Badham Ryan Kemp Nick Crossland Lewis Moult Leon Gormley Chris Rose Phil Stimson Carl Prior Klay Radford Tom Kempin Lewis Glover Ben Warwick Stuart Morley James Long Sam Grindey Duncan Lennox Adam Chambers Dave Osborn