Melbourne 33 - 8 Ilkeston
By Peter Ilott
Melbourne Maintain Momentum in 2019.
Following the festive break Melbourne welcomed Ilkeston to Cockshut Lane. The early season game in sunny climates saw Melbourne claim a comprehensive victory. However, nothing can be taken for granted and over the course of the season the Ilks had managed to claim some meaningful and impressive wins, Melbourne knew that a hard battle lay in wait.
The weather had been kind and the pitch was in good shape. Despite the drop in temperature and overcast nature of the day, it remained dry for the entirety of the game.
The squad had rested and rejuvenated with a plethora of players to select and very impressive training numbers, over 50 players training during the seniors session at Christmas, giving the coaches much to deliberate and decide upon.
Harry Stephenson, following short rugby sabbatical due to work, was a welcome returnee and took up a place on the bench. Morris Hall started in the row and James Benstead slotted into Blindside. Charlie Livesey returned from injury to take up the outside centre position and Josh Mallet returning from a fractured jaw took a wing berth. Will Doleman gained his second appearance of the season from the bench.
The game started well and at pace with Melbourne imposing themselves and gaining early ascendency. jack pearce and Joe Livesey claiming two early tries following sound work at the breakdown and close support play from the forwards. Ilkeston responded with a penalty. 14 - 3.
Melbourne's set piece was working well and the decision making of playmakers Oliver Page and Euan Holden ensure Melbourne maintained their intensity and played their best rugby in the right areas of the pitch. Their defensive organisation and commitment was once again the mark of their game as they contested well and battled well.
Joe Livesey scored his second of the game towards the end of the first half finishing off fine interlining play in the Ilkeston 22 as play switched direction allowing Livesey to hit a sharp angle and finish well. 21 - 3
At the stroke of half time, changes were made with jack pearce taking the loose head berth and Harry Stephenson coming into hooker. An injury in the first half saw jack pearce replaced with Will Doleman.
An early yellow card for a "cynical" infringement saw Tom "naughty boy" Warren be the first recipient of the refs wrath despite two clear and similarly cynical infringements having occurred at the other end of the pitch prior to this. Melbourne were reduced to 14 and during this period Ilkeston attempted to ramp up the pressure. Melbourne's resolve held firm and the green and gold were typically dogged refusing to give an inch.
From a penalty Ilkeston chose to kick to touch and from a scrappy line-out were able to use momentum to generate a try scoring opportunity which they took well. 21 - 8
Charlie Livesey was Melbourne's next try scorer, competing with his brothers hunger and thirst for points. Securing Melbourne's try bonus point, Charlie took the ball into contact well and his physicality saw a break through the line for a good finish central to the posts. A fifth score was not far behind as Tom Warren, having repented for his sins, came back to bring his explosive best as the ball swept from wide right to wide left where the talismanic backrow was waiting to drive over the line.
This was the final score and result of the day 33 - 8. A rusty but cohesive display from Melbourne saw a positive start to the second half of the season and 2019. A tough challenge in Lincoln, away, lies in wait next week and the boys will need to significantly improve if they want to break Lincolns unbeaten home run.
MoTM - Devon Iliffe
TRIES - X2 J Livesey, J Pearce, C Livesey, T Warren.
KICKS - X4 E Holden (Conversions)
YC/RC - Tom Warren (YC)