Midlands 1 East
Market Rasen & Louth 12
After last week’s game in balmy summer conditions, the red and greens’ first ever trip to Oundle was a mixture of torrential downpours interspersed with sunny intervals, which was mirrored by Rasen’s patchy performance.
Playing down the slope, Oundle showed their attacking intent and willingness to spread the ball wide before Will Carrington opened the scoring with a well-struck penalty in the fourth minute.
The home side maintained their early momentum to keep Rasen pinned in their own half.
After conceding a scrum in the shadow of their own posts, Rasen seemed to have redeemed themselves as the forwards took control and shunted Oundle backwards.
However, number eight Rob Shingles retrieved the situation, picking the ball up from the retreating scrum and brushing off the would-be tacklers to power his way over the line.
Oundle continued to exploit Rasen’s poor backline defence as their own backs splintered the red and greens before Shingles punched through a hole to score under the posts to leave Carrington with a simple conversion.
As the sky darkened, so did Rasen’s position when Oundle created an overlap for James Keane to finish a simple winger’s try with Carrington again converting.
There was a glimmer for Rasen when newcomer Jake McKay made a break in the centre of the field, but lack of support brought his enterprise to an early conclusion.
Carrington added to his tally in the 27th minute with another well-struck penalty, but four minutes later as the heavens opened with lightning in the distance, the referee brought a premature halt to the first half with the players making a hasty departure to the sanctuary of the dressing rooms.
As the rain abated, the two sides emerged in readiness to complete an extended second half that would bring the match up to the full 80 minutes.
Within two minutes of the re-start Oundle had increased their lead.
Rasen kicked upfield almost straight into the arms of Tom Oliver and the absence of any red and green chasers left the fullback under no pressure before he launched a counter attack.
He was able to make good ground through a dishevelled Rasen defence before linking with Vernon Horne.
The powerful centre made mincemeat of the remaining defenders to dot down over the whitewash.
The unerring boot of Carrington added the extra two points and at 32–0, Rasen had an Everest to climb.
The introduction of Chris Starling from the bench seemed to be the catalyst for a mini red and green revival as Rasen drove relentlessly for the Oundle line with their pick and drive routine.
After countless phases, Oundle were congratulating themselves for holding out to concede a five-metre scrum.
The power of the Rasen eight was too much for Oundle to contain as they were marched backwards over their own line for number eight McKay to mark his first team debut with a pushover try.
Josh Lawton added the conversion and at last Rasen were up and running as the sun made a reappearance.
Rasen continued to utilise the pick and drive as Oundle had no answer to this direct approach.
Allied to this, Rasen now had total control in the set scrum and as long as they could maintain possession there was only one side that was going to score next.
Rasen were up to the task and after battering Oundle through the forwards, McKay finished off another series of drives to grab his second try.
This battle of attrition was sapping the energy and Oundle were shrewd enough to try and keep Rasen pinned in their own half when their possession drought subsided.
Rasen were caught napping after conceding a needless penalty on their 22 as Carrington stepped up to tap the ball instead of kicking for goal, which the men in red and green had unwisely assumed would be his preferred option.
Oundle’s quick recycling took its toll on the tiring Rasen legs and as play moved from one side of the field to the other, Shingles completed his hattrick with an easy run in.
Carrington maintained his concentration to land a final conversion to give Oundle a final winning margin of 39–12.
Rasen had not been helped by changes in the side from the previous week, including a makeshift halfback pairing of players unfamiliar with the nine and 10 jerseys, but that was only peripheral to the side’s downfall.
The failings of last week resurfaced with poor defensive alignment and woeful tackling technique in some quarters that enabled Oundle to play on the front foot and capitalise on their proficient execution.
Rasen were strangely subdued from the outset and didn’t rekindle their spirit until it was too late, although their purple patch of forward domination was a joy to behold from the touchline.
Overall there was some improvement on last week’s outing, but there is still a lot to work on before Rasen bring themselves back to the level required to be competitive in this league.
RASEN: Ashton, Alldridge, Southwell, Mills, Chamberlin, Grant, Pryer, McKay, P. Everton, White, J. Norton, W. Gray, Lawton, Machon, Goodwin; Subs: C. Starling (Ashton), Inman (Grant), Cooper (Goodwin).
On Saturday Rasen return to Willingham Road to take on nearest rivals Paviors, who have won one and lost one this season so far (KO 3pm).
The second team also travelled to Oundle and held a 7– 6 lead at the interval, but the loss of Simon Cooper to the first team to cover Adam Goodwin’s injury affected the side, Oundle winning 20– 7. Colt Ben Palmer was named as Rasen’s man of the match.