Midlands 3 East (North)
Melbourne 1st XV 44pts
Belper 1st XV 25pts
BELPER RFC first XV travelled to long time rivals Melbourne hoping for a change in their fortunes but once again came away defeated.
Injuries again hit the black and whites hard with captain Tony England and vice-captain James Naylor both sitting out.
Joe Blackwell took charge of a changed side and changed position to scrum half.
Belper did welcome back Frank Watson into the starting side, hopefully now over his injury problems.
Melbourne started the game very well, not giving the away side time to settle.
Belper struggled to hold on in the opening half with the home side running in three tries and scoring three penalties.
It was by no means one-way traffic with Belper putting together good passages of play but failing to make any mark on the score heet in the opening exchanges.
Losing second row James Kmieciak to an early injury didn’t help but having veteran Wozz Haywood on the bench allowed Belper to tighten up the scrum.
Andy Yorke and Charlie Watson took the fight to Melbourne with good breaks and powerful runs and Belper did get some reward at the end of the half with young winger Richard Scott going in at the corner after good hands from the backs.
At half time Belper faced a large score deficit to get back in the game but did have the advantage of the slope and wind.
Simon Jones settled into his normal game and Belper began the half the better side.
Good territory was gained and quick penalties taken which set up Wozz Haywood to power over the line. Jones converted and Belper started to play. Belper though could not make the most of good field positions and the home side broke away for another try.
They added two more penalties before Belper again hit back through Bryan O’Gorman. While most of the players on the pitch were trying to settle an argument, O’Gorman took the ball on and squeezed over the line for Belper’s third try.
Again the home side hit back with a try of their own but Belper still had the chance of picking up a bonus point if they could get a fourth try.
In the dying minutes Belper pressed and had a line out five metres out. From the line out the Melbourne players infringed and a quickly taken penalty saw captain Joe Blackwell grab the club a valuable point.
Melbourne did deserve the victory and look a dangerous and capable side but going away from home and scoring four tries can give Belper a great deal of hope.
This week is a home fixture to Mellish (2.15pm kick-off).