Avonvale defeat high-flying Melksham in thrilling clash
AVONVALE The lead changed eight times as Avonvale defeated high-flying Melksham 26-23 to claim only their second win of the Dorset & WIlts 1 North season.
All of Vale's points came from their backs but Melksham were unlucky not to steal a share of the points with the last kick of one of the most entertaining fixtures staged at Bathford in some time.
After falling behind to a penalty, Vale opened their account when wing Chris Cooper touched down following a clever interchange with full-back Matt Knight and Joe Vowles added the extras.
Melksham regained the advantage with an unconverted try but Vale hit back when a scrum just outside the 22 was taken against the head and skipper George Hobbs gathered and drove towards the Wiltshire side's tryline. The maul collapsed and quick ball led to a second score from Knight.
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Vale attempted to feed their backs at every opportunity but it proved their undoing as Melksham seized upon a misplaced pass to go one point ahead in the second half.
The home side lost a player to the sin-bin but forced a lineout to spoil when Joe Pugh kicked deep. They stole it and replacement centre Adam Brunton was given the space to score.
A successful conversion gave Vale the game's first six-point gap but back came Melksham with an unconverted effort and a try in the corner from their winger.
With time running down, a piece of individual brilliance from Brunton proved to be the difference. He slipped past the defence on halfway and sprinted through tired bodies before stretching over the line to score.
Vowles duly added the conversion but the excitement continued until the final whistle as Melksham, despite their lack of success with the boot, opted to kick a long penalty attempt. The home side were relieved to watch the ball glide past the outside of the uprights – as they were to hear the referee's whistle moments later.
Praise was given to Vale's forwards for the quantity of ball that was made available for the backs, with prop Steve Grant named man of the match.