Relieved Belper finally got their new season up and running in the Midlands 3 East (North) division with an excellent 47-17 victory at home to Nottingham Moderns.
After defeats at the hands of Lincoln (36-28) and Loughborough (41-12), Belper ran in seven tries to maul Moderns, who were also waiting for their first win of the season.
Things didn’t start well for the home side because Moderns were quick out of the blocks and scored in the opening two minutes. However, this galvanised Belper into action.
As they fought to get a grip of the game, sustained away pressure led to a five-metre scrum off the Belper line. The home side held firm, driving back the opposition, which gave Craig innocent time to break. A kick to touch put Belper well inside the Moderns 22 and good pressure from the line out led to Mitch Wilmott, who was later voted man-of-the-match, powering over for the equalising score.
Spurred on, Belper seized the initiative when winger Josh Gwilliam raced clear and went over in the corner. This was added to by fly-half Sam Chalkin, who sidestepped his man to ghost over for another try before half-time. Tom Stones added two conversions to get his points tally off the mark and leave the score 19-7 at the interval.
Most pleasing for Belper was the way their set-piece was working very well. Chris Haines was finding his jumper in the line, and the front five of Carter, Haines, Woodward, England and York were winning the scrums comfortably.
After the break, the lead was extended as terrific work from the backs again released Gwilliam who had plenty to do but managed to force his way over near the posts to get the bonus point.
Then followed a period of 20 minutes when Belper were forced to hang on with only 13 men after yellow cards for Gwilliam and Rory Peverell, both for being offside. Moderns grew in confidence and pushed forward to score twice.
However, Belper bit back and a score by Frank Watson, even though they were still down to 13, killed off the away hope. And when they were back to their full quota of players, they closed out the game with tries from Tom Hallam and Gwilliam, who completed an impressive hat-trick.
Belper’s next match is on Saturday, October 10 when they travel to meet unbeaten early-season leaders, Ashby.