Melbourne break Lincoln's 'Home Run'
By Peter Ilott
Melbourne win on the road against a strong Lincoln Side.
Melbourne took a squad of forty players up the A46 to Lincoln where the land is flat and weather was brisk and wet. The first XV squad saw several changes with a number of seniors players (back predominantly) unavailable.
The front row saw Jack Percival installed to loose head combined with Goddard and Nicholson. Al Judge, returning from his recent walking holiday, was welcomed back into the row. Despite a severe bout of Man Flu Tom Wazza Warren smashed it into touch much like the opposition to take his place at No.8.
The backline welcomed debutant and recent signing Oli Saffell who took a wing berth for his first taste of the green and gold, Jack Fisher fresh faced from LA returned to outside centre and Jamie Bullock - on loan from bath (uni!) - took the second wing spot.
The game started frantically with Melbourne asserting early pressure to sizeable opposition who looked more like a squad of forwards than a full contingent of players with two sizeable centres and fullback to (literally) add weight to their gameplay. In true David v Goliath scenario Melbourne initially rang rings around Lincoln, playing territory well and securing a penalty leading to a lineout inside the home side's 22. Following several phases of play scrum half Oliver Page at his rumbustious best, darted over from a weak fringe defence to score the games first try. 0 - 7.
The lead was short lived, from the restart Lincoln asserted themselves and applied early pressure to an unusually poor and lacklustre Melbourne defence. A maul saw the hot side establish themselves in Melbourne's half and from the resulting pick and go's they scored in the corner. 7 - 7
With confidence high the home side continued to smash their way forward and Melbourne were dazed by some ferocious running and carriers. At this stage in the game the tackling didn't match the run and allowed Lincoln easy yards. It was not unexpected to see the home side take the lead as they then scored there second try of the game. 12 - 7
Melbourne recognised their floors and there typical doggedness was waning. With that to mind the exceptional Holden managed the game well adding points when on offer. Taking the score to 12 - 10 when a penalty became available. The shift in momentum began to come around and Melbourne upped their standard led by the excellent Nightingale who was a constant nuisance at the breakdown and tackle areas, harrying the opposition at all opportunities.
Melbourne didn't have long to wait until powerful centre jack pearce made his own mark on the game running an excellent inside line that cut Lincoln apart allowing Pearce the chance to run in his first score of the day. 12 - 17
With the final minutes of the first half approach Lincoln attempted to up there performance having witnessed Melbourne take a firm grasp of the game. However, a loose pass was picked off and intercepted by the excellent Benstead whom ran the try in form +30m beating everyone for pace, a great try from the backrow forward.
With half time declared Melbourne went in with a sizeable lead 12 - 22
The second half was played with the same passion and spirit (ferocity). Martin, Stephenson and Coyne all joined the foray and made noticeable contributions.
The hits continued to rain in and Melbourne continued to manage and control the game well. Two further penalties were added to the green&golds score, with Holden kicking superbly in blustery, wet and bitterly cold conditions.
A late yellow card for Percival didn't present any further opportunity for Lincoln who battled well but couldn't find a way through Melbourne's performance.
Final score 19 - 28 to Melbourne.
TRY'S - Oliver Page, jack pearce, James Benstead.
KICKS: Euan Holden - 2 x Con, 3 x penalty.
YC - Jack Percival
MOTM - Alex Nightingale