Woodrush 0 Melton Mowbray 24
Midlands Senior Vase semi-final
SATURDAY’S game proved to be a bridge too far for a Rush side stripped of several first choice players through injury and unavailability.
Melton are riding high in the equivalent league in the east of the Midlands, with an unbeaten season to date, and it was evident from the first whistle why they are being so successful as they moved to within two more wins of a place in the national final at Twickenham.
The visitors’ forwards were extremely well drilled and carried the game to the home side, dominating in the scrummage and lineout and very efficient at the breakdown.
Woodrush’s much-vaunted defence needed to be at its very best to keep them out but on 15 minutes a break by Jon Ford promised an overlap which the home team could have exploited.
Unfortunately, the decision to kick rather than pass the ball backfired as the kick was charged down, leaving the home defence scrambling.
In the ensuing panic, Jack Connolly was yellow-carded for a clear obstruction and it seemed inevitable from the moment the penalty was kicked for the corner that Melton would score, which they did, although they missed the conversion.
The pressure on the home team now increased by being down to 14 men but Woodrush showed good spirit and adventure to stay in contention.
Despite the general superiority of the visitors, it actually took them until the cusp of half time to score again, from a brutally effective shift drive from a lineout five metres from the home line.
Half time and 12 points in front, Melton started the second half in much the same way, pressurising every attempt by the home team to break their stranglehold on possession.
Ten minutes into the half though a second offence by Connolly saw him walk for good this time, leaving a further half an hour for Woodrush to play with just 14 men.
To the credit of the home side, they played with immense passion and restricted the visitors to just two scores.
Lesser teams would have crumbled under the pressure and given that they spent an hour of the game one man short they made a good fist of it.
A good first start for the first team by Luke Sinclair at stand-off before being moved to full back in the last 20 minutes and a strong performance by the newly-returned Uri Shutkever were the highlights of an otherwise disappointing afternoon for Woodrush.
Melton were excellent and Woodrush wish them the very best of good fortune in this competition, which could see them trotting out at Twickenham in a few weeks’ time.
Third placed Woodrush resume their Midlands Three West (South) promotion push on Saturday with a trip to Harbury.