Market Rasen and Louth RFC returned to Midlands One East league action with a 64-14 defeat at Melton Mowbray in a game which was much closer than the scoreline suggested.
As with so many weeks there were patches of play which showed what the side is capable of, but some woeful defending in the first half allowed Melton to build a big score.
With two league games to go, the side needs to stick to their task as they look to lay the foundations for a new beginning in Midlands Two next season.
Rasen started brightly after Melton’s initial attack and built the phases nicely until a telegraphed pass was intercepted by Henry Kaczmarczyk who sprinted clear and under the posts to give Harvey Green an easy conversion.
The following 20 minutes were a complete nightmare as Melton ran riot, scoring almost at will as Rasen’s poor alignment and total absence of tackling in some quarters were ruthlessly exploited by strong running.
Two tries each for centres Klay Radford and Oliver Circuit highlighted the midfield weakness, while number eight Kieran Bugby weighed in with a try of his own.
Green added two more conversions to give Melton a commanding 36–0 lead with the second quarter in its infancy.
A tactical switch in the backline plugged the hole and despite the scoreline, Rasen began to emerge from the wreckage of the early onslaught.
Patiently working the phases, the forwards made inroads into Melton territory, forcing them to concede penalties.
And from a lineout following another penalty, Rasen employed the tried and tested catch and drive routine for prop Matt Ashton to peel round and burrow over the line.
Tom Alldridge slotted the conversion for the rejuvenated Red and Greens, but Melton had the final say of the half when flanker Leon Gormley scored on the stroke of half-time after driving down the blindside from a lineout.
Green’s excellent touchline conversion rubbed further salt into the Rasen wounds as the half ended 43-7.
Rasen suffered an early blow shortly after the restart when Ashton was unable to shake off an injury sustained in the closing stages of the first half and was forced off.
Lock Charlie Benson gamely moved up to the coalface of the front row to take over the propping duties and battled hard all afternoon.
The half was evenly poised until Matt Cox broke blind and Rasen reverted back to their earlier habit of standing off tackles.
Cox took full advantage of this before releasing Kaczmarczyk for the winger to outstrip what was left of a floundering defence.
Rasen responded positively through the forwards, putting pressure on the home defence which fell back into conceding penalties and losing Marcus Badham to a yellow card.
The visitors appeared to be on the front foot, but a turnover undid all of their hard work as Melton counter-attacked from deep for Gormley to charge up the touchline and cross the whitewash.
Once again Rasen came back through their forwards and Melton’s penalty count accelerated.
A further catch and drive almost yielded dividends, but desperate defence managed to hold up Rasen over the line.
The visitors continued to maintain their foothold deep in Melton’s territory and another penalty brought Gormley a yellow card.
Another lineout routine pushed Rasen over the gain line, quickly followed by a neat pass to Jack Norton for the flanker to grab a try and gain some reward for his unstinting work.
Alldridge added the conversion, but with legs tiring, Cox rounded off the scoring with a sprint.
Green extended his perfect record of conversions in the second half as the home side finished with a result which has probably saved their Midlands One status for the time being.
Rasen return to Willingham Road on Saturday for the last home game of the season, and Sponsors Day, when Northampton Old Scouts will be the visitors. Kick-off is 3pm.
Rasen: Ashton (Crowe), Alldridge, Southwell, Chamberlin, Benson, J. Norton, Grant, Pryer, Fenwick, C. Everton, T. Stephens (Palmer), F. Norton, Lawton, W. Stephens, Noquet.