The Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV picked up a second win in a week with a 32-12 victory over Spalding 1st XV at the weekend.
It was third time lucky for a fixture that had been postponed twice due to inclement weather conditions, but there was nothing lucky about the outcome despite the visitors being the dominant side in the first quarter. An early break from Spalding skipper Harry Sharman that caused concern in the red and green ranks was quickly followed by another dangerous attack where an overlap was wasted by a poor final pass.
Rasen broke out as skipper Dave Starling made a brilliant catch-cum-steal from a twenty two drop out and surged deep into Spalding territory before the visitors managed to seek the sanctuary of the touchline.
Rasen took the line out and drove on before releasing the ball to the fleet footed Matt Sutton joining the line from fullback. Sutton deftly chipped the ball beyond the oncoming defence, but winger Peter Everton just lost the race to the touchdown as the ball crossed the line.
After surviving this isolated attack, Spalding went back on the offensive and the red and greens were forced to resume their defensive duties as the visitors continued to pose all of the problems.
Disaster struck for Spalding in the nineteenth minute when a promising attack was halted as Sharman clashed heads with his own scrum half Rob Lucas.
The two players lay prostrate for some time before first Lucas returned to his concerned team mates then Sharman gingerly rose to his feet to be escorted from the field to play no further part in the game. The loss of their influential talismanic skipper clearly affected the visitors and was a turning point in the game.
Thereafter apart from a missed penalty from fly half Rhys Thomson, the remainder of the half belonged to Rasen. Sutton took a sublime line and did well to cling on to a heavy pass to cause further consternation in the Spalding defence. As the move carried on Spalding conceded a penalty and then compounded the felony with dissent that cost them a further ten metres to make the kick easier.
Sutton made no mistake and after soaking up so much pressure Rasen had taken the lead.
This score jolted the slumbering red and green giant into action as the forwards took control with their driving play and after moving from one side of the field to the other, Sutton appeared on the end of the line to race in at the corner. Quickly dusting himself down the fullback then hit a superlative kick to land the touchline conversion.
Rasen kept up the pressure when a defensive Spalding lineout was indiscriminately tapped back and latched onto by the red and green swarm pouring through. Prop Chris Starling charged forward with the line invitingly within sight, but with the defence closing in, he pragmatically popped the ball to supporting flanker Leigh Dearden to complete the score.
Rasen finished the half strongly with the rampant Dave Starling tackled just short of the line with his offload being knocked on by the support, but at 15 – 0 up the red and greens were in a strong position at the interval.
Rasen continued where they had left off with excellent ball retention as the backs and forwards combined to heap the pressure on the visitors from the restart.
With eight minutes gone the red and green pack shunted Spalding over their own line for number eight Dean Hutchinson to touch down for a push over try. Any thoughts that Spalding would capitulate after this early onslaught were soon dismissed as they fought their way back into Rasen territory.
Sloppy play from the home side resulted in a penalty, which Spalding took quickly in an attempt to keep the ball away from the juggernaut Rasen pack. It almost worked, but for the speed and tackle of substitute winger Nick Harvey who shot out of the line to buy time for his less alert compatriots.
However the visitors still managed to retain possession and young titian haired fly half Rhys Thomson ghosted through a gaping hole in the Rasen defence.
As the tackle came in he offloaded for supporting centre Harry Harrison to dot down under the posts.
Thomson added the conversion as the Rasen indignation rose to prompt further vengeance for this score. It wasn’t long in coming as the red and greens responded within four minutes.
A penalty was drilled into touch and lineout possession secured before the ball was moved away to set up another phase. Dave Starling cut back against the oncoming defence and with sheer determination forced himself to the line with his outstretched arm at the limit just being sufficient to make the score.
Sutton slotted the conversion to restore the margin. Rasen continued to batter away at the visitors with most of the play taking place on the left hand side of the pitch, but Spalding remained defiant as their fatigued frames continued to put in the tackles.
Eventually the pressure took its toll when a quick free kick was rumbled on by the forwards with lock Ben Chamberlin the recipient of the score.
With time and margin on their side Rasen took their foot of the gas a little and Spalding found the energy to work their way back into red and green territory. With Rasen conceding penalties at an alarming rate, Spalding continued to run everything and were eventually rewarded when substitute Callum Thomson scored a consolation try, but that will provide little comfort with no league points from the game leaving them perilously close to the relegation trap door.
For Rasen it was a gratifying victory to push them further up the table.
Another good performance from Rasen showing the virtue of patience as the resilient defence held off everything Spalding could throw at them in the first quarter. The same applied to attack where forcing the pace often results in unforced errors, but today’s patient approach reduced this and made Rasen a potent attacking force.
The spate of penalties at the end of the game should be a minor concern, but doesn’t detract from this excellent win.
Next week Rasen make the short trip to Newark who are currently one place above the red and greens with a four point advantage. The home game was a close Newark victory, but Rasen will be looking to reverse this and continue on the winning run.
Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Cole, Chamberlin, Crowe, Dearden L, Starling D, Hutchinson, Noquet, Goodison, Everton P, Dearden A, Beasley, Robinson, Sutton
Subs (all used): Ashton, Harvey, Mills
Spalding: Waudby, Dowse, Rowlands, Coates, Anker, Duerden, Sharman, Brown, Lucas, Thomson R, Adams, Chappell, Harrison, Winch, Williamson
Subs: Shakespeare, Thomson C, McHugh