Market Rasen and Louth RFC returned home from the long trip to Leighton Buzzard on the wrong end of a scoreline which flattered their hosts.
Rasen had first use of the steep incline, but the Buzzards made the early running as the men in Red and Green were still shaking the journey out of their system.
The early pressure forced Rasen to concede penalties and after seven minutes, a well-executed lineout catch drive saw Jacob Barker open the scoring.
Moments later Buzzard’s lineout was less effective when the long throw sailed over the back marker and was gathered by Rasen fly-half, Ed Nicholls.
A quick offload to George Grant, desperate to leave his mark on his farewell appearance before heading off to the other side of the world, ended with the flanker held up just short of the line.
Rasen kept up the pressure, but a turnover deep in their opponents’ half ended in a devastating counter-attack as Ben Beaumont glided in under the posts.
Jordan Marshall added the conversion and six minutes later added another as the hosts benefitted from an inordinately long advantage for Euan Irwin’s strong break and offload to tee up Arran Perry to score.
At 19–0 down the game seemed to be ebbing away from Rasen, but they then hit a purple patch.
Good recycling work paved the way for an overlap and Simon Cooper hugged the touchline to speed over the whitewash and veered in to make for an easier conversion. Nicholls duly slotted the extras.
Rasen spent long periods in Buzzard territory as the half drew to a close.
In the 43rd-minute the home lineout malfunctioned again as Ben Chamberlin latched onto another botched long throw.
The ball was taken on with good support from the other forwards for flanker Jake McKay to finish off, powering his way over.
Nicholls added the conversion, but the referee conjured up a further four minutes of play before ending the half with Rasen trailing 19–14.
As the second half began, Rasen still had it all to do playing up the slope, but confidence was high.
This took a dent after 11 minutes when the referee showed Nicholls a yellow card, and Marshall punished the offence with a well-struck penalty.
History then repeated itself when a promising Rasen attack was turned over and the Buzzards broke away with Jack Whitehouse scoring wide out.
The two quick scores took the wind out of Rasen’s sails as the five-point deficit escalated to 13.
Rasen continued to battle away, but were on the wrong end of another decision to give the hosts a penalty platform for a further catch and drive.
The Buzzards got it right this time and drove number eight Jordan Cummins over the line from a perfectly-executed routine.
Any thoughts of a dramatic turnaround were now a forlorn hope, but bonus points were still up for grabs.
On a gloomy afternoon, Spencer Holvey, operating in the unfamiliar role of centre, brightened proceedings with some fancy footwork to open up the home defence for Chris Everton.
After receiving the ball on the edge of the 22, the scrum-half had enough pace to score in the corner.
Buzzard were given another gift with four minutes left when McKay was yellow-carded, leaving Beaumont to kick the resulting penalty.
With the slope sapping the stamina, Rasen were caught out again with another converted breakaway try.
Substitute Harry Wallis chased back to pull off a brilliant cover tackle, but the ball was moved on to the support players to score.
After making such a valiant fightback before halftime, it was disappointing that Rasen couldn’t follow it up in the second half.
Once again there were patches of really good play, but as in previous weeks it wasn’t sustained for long enough as errors were once more at the heart of the Red and Greens’ downfall.
Rasen: Ashton (C. Starling), Alldridge, Southwell, Mills, Crowe, Grant, McKay, Chamberlin, C. Everton, Nicholls, Cooper (Wallis), Pryer, Holvey, Machon, Stephens.
* There is a break in league action and no cup game so Rasen will be resting up in readiness for the visit of fellow strugglers Wellingborough on Saturday, November 25, kick-off 2.15pm.
With the next three games against the sides occupying the three places immediately above Rasen, and with two of them at home, the boys would welcome as much support as possible.