Midlands 3 East (North)
Belper RUFC 1st XV 6pts
Mellish RUFC 1st XV 8pts
BELPER first XV were denied what would have been a deserved victory against a tough visiting Mellish side by a last minute penalty.
Belper were again suffering with injuries and last minute pull outs.
The visiting team were below Belper in the league but their results had been improving of late.
It was a game that Belper could and should have won.
The home side spent much of the game camped in the visiting half but thanks to tough defence and a will to keep Belper out, they stood strong.
Jake Holmes made his first team debut and looked like he’d played at this level for some time.
With an altered front row, Warren Haywood started as Hooker. His powerful runs troubled the Mellish defence, and their centre is probably still feeling the effects of a first half smash.
Frank Watson, playing in the centres, produced some good breaks but Belper never quite took advantage of his runs.
The away side scrummaged better and rucking with high intensity, which prevented Belper from settling and using quick ball.
Simon Jones looked composed at full back and Jack Blount looked for good field position with his boot and tackled anything that came at him in defence.
The conditions were very sticky and Belper thought they had scored when young Richard Scott went over the line only to be called back for putting a foot in touch. All Belper had to show at half time was a penalty to make it 3-0.
In the first 20 minutes of the second half Belper huffed and puffed but could not get through the Mellish defence.
The visiting team were reduced to 14 when their flanker was yellow carded for the second time, resulting in him leave the pitch for good.
him leave the pitch for good.
All this did was spur on his side into a defensive display which they will probably not beat all season.
Despite this possession and numerous overlaps, Belper could not find the killer instinct, with Joe Blackwell coming close, along with strong runs from Charlie Watson, Andy York and Merv Holmes.
Mellish broke and scored against the run of play. An unconverted try was scored by their centre as Belper switched off for a few seconds.
The black and whites did get the lead with a Jones penalty but hearts were broken in the final moments of the game.
The referee gave the visitors a very contentious penalty and the Mellish player took the kick well to earn the away team the points.
This Saturday is the final game of the year and it’s a trip to Lincoln where they will look to upset a team looking good near the top of the table.