Midlands 3 East (North)
Mellish 1st XV 21pts
Belper RFC 1st XV 17pts
BELPER RFC travelled to Mellish with hopes of revenge after losing the home tie with the last kick of the game.
Unfortunately Belper could not recover from the first 20 minutes of the game where Mellish took a 21-point lead.
Belper had Tom Stones making his first team debut after a string of excellent displays with the seconds.
The black and whites also had back Josh Gwilliam in the centres, Tom Stone keeping his place on the wing and captain Tony England on the bench after a five-month lay-off.
With a young back line Belper looked to make use of the wide Mellish pitch but it was the home side’s forwards who put their mark on the game.
They outweighed the Belper pack, who had the fitness but there’s no accounting for pure bulk up front.
The home side scored three converted tries in the first 20 minutes and looked a very sharp and capable unit, not fitting their low league position.
Belper grew as the half went on with Charlie Watson and Merv Holmes starting to get amongst the opposing forwards, the game began edging Belper’s way.
Daz Griffiths was at scrum half and had an impressive game giving Simon Jones quality ball to work with.
Captain for the day, Bryan O’Gorman led from the front, putting in big hits and making good breaks but the home defence rallied to keep Belper at bay.
Belper got back into the game at the end of the half when Tom Mathews scored a try in the far corner after good work from the forwards.
The half-time war cry saw Belper play much better and they got back into the game with another Tom Mathews try. This one came from good hands in the midfield which led Tom Mathews having an easy run in at the corner.
Belper lost the impressive Leon Griffiths to a knee injury and saw England make his return at second row. This seemed to strengthen the scrum up and give the Belper backs some ball on the front foot.
The visitors scored again after an excellent break first by Tom Cross who passed to Tom Stones who beat several men before being held on the 22.
Belper recycled well and Jack Blount was able to score with the overlap the break had created. Simon Jones converted to leave Belper four points behind.
The game swung both ways before Belper thought they’d scored through Josh Gwilliam.
He had chased a kick through and it seemed he’d made it but the referee thought otherwise.
Over 15 minutes extra were played, due to several injuries and the home side making very good use of replacing injured front row players.
Despite going down, it was again a good performance from a young team who have to learn to play with different players each week. With just two games left in the season, Belper will hope to finish on a high.
Tom Stones took the man of the match after an impressive debut at full-back.