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Sat. 16th February. South West Division – Wadworth 6X Dorset & Wilts 1 North Melksham 1st XV 20 Chippenham 2nd XV 12
An entertaining game at Oakfields saw Melksham RFC 1st XV come from behind twice to earn a well-fought 20-12 victory over local rivals Chippenham RFC 2nd XV.
Chippenham were the stronger side in the early stages of the game and with the breeze behind them, they were able to get around a stubborn Melksham defence as they took the lead thanks to some intricate backs play led to a try in the corner, 0-5 to the away side.
However, Melksham responded well from kick off, stringing together some fine attacking play of their own and dominating possession. Eventually Melksham 10, Alistair Smith, spotted an opportunity to chip the ball behind the opposition defence and a fortunate bounce allowed Lewis Simmons to pluck the ball out the air and cross over the try-line with a prolific finish reminiscent of a prime Jonah Lomu. Alistair Smith then put Melksham into the lead with a successful conversion, making it 7-5.
Melksham then proceeded to dominate, and with the Chippenham penalty count climbing, an opportunity arose for Alistair Smith to put Melksham a further 3 points in front, in which he took an impressive 40-metre penalty to make the score 10-5. However despite Melksham’s dominance, Chippenham were gifted a try as a wayward pass was intercepted for a clear run in for Chippenham to retake the lead just before half-time, 10-12.
Melksham continued their dominance in the second half, with Chippenham’s discipline letting them down again allowing Melksham to overturn the lead again, with Alistair Smith slotting away his second penalty of the day, 13-12 to Melksham. The game then suddenly burst into life with end-to-end rugby being played, and just when Chippenham thought they had scored again, Melksham centre Callum Gillard made a try-saving tackle whilst being able to hold the ball up over the try line. Then Melksham’s strong scrummaging allowed them to make multiple turnovers and relieve the pressure. Finally Melksham were able to give themselves some breathing space when second-half substitute Luke Cador made a darting run through the midfield for a brilliant solo try, with Alistair Smith converting yet again, 20-12 to Melksham, who finished the game in full control. Things went from bad to worse for Chippenham as their persistent ill discipline led to a yellow card with 7 minutes remaining on the clock, and an ease to victory for Melksham.
Melksham RFC 2nds unfortunately couldn’t follow suit, coming off the wrong side of a 22-0 scoreline against Colerne RFC.