Midlands One East
Market Rasen & Louth 8
On a cold crisp afternoon, the red and greens slugged it out against the side immediately above them in the league - and it soon became evident why the two sides were occupying the bottom slots.
An early penalty from Tom Mair gave Wellingborough the lead after six minutes and thereafter Rasen continued to give away penalties with alacrity.
There was a bubbling undercurrent of niggle from the two confidence-starved sides resulting in a number of unsavoury off-the-ball incidents that would not have met the approval of the Marquis of Queensbury and went unpunished by the official.
A late tackle from Chris Mills earned the Rasen skipper a yellow card to give him 10 minutes out from this turgid affair.
Substitute Will Scupham, on for the injured Jake McKay, brought some light to proceedings with a jinking run that belayed his rotund physique before sending a well-executed grubber kick tumbling towards the Wellingborough line.
Tom Stephens set off in pursuit, but a rather theatrical fall in contact allowed Wellingborough to minor for a twenty-two drop out.
With the half drawing to a close it was that man Scupham who brought some joy to the flagging home supporters, many of whom must have pondered the wisdom of standing on a cold touchline when a warm clubhouse, beer and international rugby on tv were beckoning in the distance.
Scupham’s towering kick turned the Wellingborough defence and a straight foot race to the line was deemed to have been won by Simon Cooper to give Rasen an unlikely lead at the interval, although from the touchline it looked touch and go as to who had actually won the race with the referee some distance from the action.
Wellingborough began the second half with more purpose and cohesion to put Rasen on the backfoot and consign them to purely defensive duties.
With five minutes gone, the pressure paid off and Wellingborough were awarded a kickable penalty - or so it seemed.
However, Luke Smith’s scuffed kick barely left the ground and flew another post’s width wide of the mark to leave Rasen’s lead intact.
The relief was short lived as Wellingborough drilled another penalty into touch.
From the lineout lock Adam Fuller peeled around to barrel his way over the line to give the visitors the lead.
For much of the third quarter Rasen remained trapped in their own half as Wellingborough continued to attack in waves.
Chris Everton was sinbinned and Rasen were left to face the visitors’ onslaught a man down.
From a set scrum number eight Chris Shipman took the ball blind before linking with Kieran Checkley.
The speedy winger had too much pace for the embattled Rasen defence and skirted around the outside before veering in to dot down under the posts.
Smith forgot his earlier horror kick and landed the conversion to extend Wellingborough’s lead.
This brought some urgency into the Rasen side that had been sadly lacking earlier in the match as they desperately tried to inject some pace into their game.
A long break from centre Peter Everton took Rasen deep into Wellingborough territory and only a desperate last-ditch tackle halted his progress.
Rasen maintained the pressure to draw a penalty out of Wellingborough, which Ed Nicholls converted to give Rasen some hope with five minutes remaining.
Alas it was too little too late as Rasen remain firmly rooted at the foot of the league table.
This was a truly lacklustre game that produced a totally forgettable first half.
There were all too brief interludes of good rugby, but the run of results is not surprisingly putting a large dent in the side’s confidence.
A win will lift the mood, but after today’s performance it is difficult to see where that is going to come from.
RASEN: C. Starling, Alldridge, Southwell, Mills, Crowe, F. Norton, McKay, Chamberlin, C. Everton, Stephens, Pryer, P. Everton, Cooper, Holveyl; Subs: Scupham, Lawton, Pridgeon.
On Saturday Rasen have another home game with Melton Mowbray being the visitors for a 2.15 pm kick off.