It was cup heartbreak for Market Rasen and Louth after a 46-22 defeat at the hands of Scunthorpe in the Lincolnshire Cup Final, a competition they’d won just 12 months ago.
Scunthorpe began the game at a frantic pace and soon had Rasen deep in their own 22 forcing the red and greens to concede a penalty in the fifth minute. Winger Tom Barker slotted the kick, but two minutes later Rasen fly half Matt Sutton evened things up with a penalty as an over eager Scunthorpe back-rower loosed his bind.
Scunthorpe continued to make the early running and a pick up from number eight Jake Baron caused consternation in Rasen ranks as he powered his way through tackles before finding Barker in space. The winger had too much pace for the red and green defence as he sped in for the first try of the game and then added the conversion.
Stoked up by the touchline intellectuals, Scunthorpe’s petulance boiled over and hooker Gareth Mist received a yellow card for some retaliatory action.
Despite this, it was Scunthorpe who had the next scoring chance, but Barker’s penalty kick failed to reach the target.
Rasen then had a period of dominance as a penalty was drilled to touch to set up the well rehearsed catch and drive routine. As had happened in the league many times, this powerful weapon yielded points as flanker Leigh Dearden was driven over the line.
Rasen continued to put pressure on the opposition as Sutton was presented with two penalty chances in quick succession, but unfortunately both attempts flew narrowly past the uprights.
Scunthorpe irascibility resurfaced again and Baron was dispatched from the field with a yellow card for a ten minute rest, although as his sentence straggled the interval, he didn’t serve the full term and returned prematurely in the second half.
Rasen won the resultant scrum and took the ball blind, but having created an overlap the final pass was agonisingly forward and the chance was gone.
The red and greens retained field position as they were awarded another penalty, but as Nick Harvey looked to take a quick tap he was needlessly impeded by bovine prop Guy Mychujliuk who became Scunthorpe’s third player to disappear into the sin bin.
Rasen took full advantage and in a carbon copy of the first score, Leigh Dearden was driven over before Sutton slotted the conversion to give Rasen a slender 15 – 10 lead at the break.
Scunthorpe disappeared into the sanctuary of the dressing room, but whatever was said in those close confines had the desired effect as they picked their game up in the second half.
Barker missed another penalty before Scunthorpe spread the ball wide and fullback Chris Neal joined the line to score in the corner, bringing the two sides level. From the kick off Rasen substitute Karl Ward received a harsh yellow for taking the catcher out in the air whilst challenging for the ball, but he was fully committed and unable to pull out.
As Ward departed Scunthorpe came back to full strength. Scunthorpe took field position and then from another quick tap penalty, Baron won the uneven contest as he powered his way over the line despite the brave efforts of the much smaller Jack Noquet.
With their tails up Scunthorpe ran in two further tries through scrumhalf Will Harrison and winger Gav Hale with centre Steve Johnson taking over the kicking duties to land one conversion.
A punch from Scunthorpe centre Ben Wright in a maul was seen by one touchline, but not the referee. Fortunately the touch judge intervened and the referee brandished yet another yellow card, although a red may have been more appropriate.
Rasen centre Adam Dearden who was sporting a facial gash courtesy of an ill placed boot from an earlier incident also found himself trudging off the field as the referee also showed him a yellow card. Within two minutes Leigh Dearden joined his brother on the touchline as the yellow fever continued.
It was hard enough with a full side against this resurgent Scunthorpe team, but with only 13 it became an uphill struggle.
A difficult pass was spilt by Rasen centre Adam Beasley in midfield and scooped up by Hale who doubled his tally running in under the posts making Johnson’s conversion a formality.
With the score line widening Rasen maintained their spirit and continued to battle away in the strength sapping heat. From another penalty kick to touch Rasen completed a hat trick of catch and drive tries with skipper Dave Starling taking over from Dearden as the scorer.
Sutton nailed the conversion and that looked to be the end of the scoring, but a final lapse in concentration allowed Harrison to dart through for a final try converted by Baron’s drop kick.
This was not the finale to the season that Rasen had hoped for, but they can hold their heads high as they met the physically intimidating Scunthorpe side head on.
The red and greens can be proud of their efforts this season and although disappointed they collected their losers medals with dignity to maintain the standards expected from the club.
This was in stark contrast to their opponents who failed to appear for their medals last year when Rasen were victorious.