When these two sides last met Rasen imposed their forward dominance for much of the game to build a lead and then imploded in the final stages to slump to defeat.
The parallels with that match were ominous when ON’s clawed their way back into this game from a 16 point deficit to bring themselves to within two points of the red and greens with 10 minutes to go and Rasen reduced to 13 men.
However an individual piece of brilliance and strong resolve saw Rasen through to register a first ever win against ON’s.
Rasen made an inauspicious start as the kick off was fumbled and the visitors, full of confidence following their 100 point demolition of Mansfield, soon had the red and greens deep in their own twenty two. Early waves of ON’s pressure were absorbed until a dropped pass was hacked on with flyers Dan Robinson and Peter Everton in hot pursuit.
ON’s recovered the situation and then opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a well struck penalty from flyhalf Tom Goodman. This sparked Rasen into life as the forwards went up a gear securing line out possession to drive at the heart of the visitors’ defence on the edge of the twenty two.
After breaching the gain line the backs came into play and a neat switch in midfield brought centre Dave Starling back across the traffic where his strong running proved irresistible as he powered his way in under the posts. Robinson banished his Newark kicking blues with a neatly struck conversion to enhance the lead.
ON’s responded quickly with another Goodman penalty to close the gap, but Rasen’s forward power was beginning to tell in the set piece.
In the 24 minute the Rasen eight won a scrum penalty after the ON’s front row were forced to stand up in the face of the extreme pressure exerted by the men in red and green.
Robinson made no mistake with his second opportunity, but whilst the ON’s set scrum was creaking their attacking intent was not as they sought to redress the balance.
After driving the ball up field with Rasen working overtime to repel the visitors, ON’s sucked in the home defence to create an overlap for Rory Seymour who joined the line from fullback to finish a well crafted try.
Rasen forward power came to the fore again as ON’s were caught offside as the red and green juggernaut rumbled on. Robinson, now firmly in the groove, nailed the penalty to restore the Rasen lead.
With the half drawing to a close Rasen overthrew a lineout that ended in the arms of Ashley Fulthorpe. The ON’s flanker burst forward and linked with his scrumhalf Lewis Barker to snipe through a gap in the Rasen defence. With Seymour again taking an outside line, a try looked inevitable, but Barker’s pass flew behind his teammate harmlessly into touch to bring proceedings to a halt with Rasen holding a slender 13–11 advantage.
Coach Rhuari Pike must have delivered an inspirational team talk as Rasen made a vigorous start to the second half, pinning ON’s deep in their own twenty two with some fearsome forward drives.
The Rasen pressure told as first rookie winger Fernely Simmonds was yellow carded for persistent offside and then the ON’s resistance crumbled under the relentless onslaught from the red and green pack leaving the referee with no option, but to award a penalty try. Robinson continued his rich vein of form with the boot to add the simple conversion.
ON’s calmness of the first half was now evaporating in the face of the Rasen barrage as they conceded a penalty and were then marched back a further 10 metres for an ill judged comment. Only a knock on after the lineout catch and drive saved ON’s, but the respite was brief as they continued with their propensity for penalty concession. Another catch and drive edged Rasen closer to the line, but ON’s were offering stout resistance until lock Tom Pytlik espied a chink in the armour and prised his way over the line. Robinson maintained his 100 percent record to land the conversion to give Rasen a 16 point lead approaching the final quarter, but then the game took on a different complexion.
A sin binning for hooker Tom Alldridge left a depleted Rasen to battle an ON’s side showing no signs of capitulation. The visitors took full advantage of the extra man as their forwards pushed Rasen backwards in a scrum to provide the perfect platform for number eight Sam Howes to pick up from the base and force his way over the line. Goodman added the conversion and the rejuvenated ON’s were now looking a daunting prospect.
A mazy run from Simmonds opened the Rasen defence and Seymour looked to be in the clear again, but an enveloping tackle from fullback Peter Everton snuffed out the attack.
By now ON’s had become entrenched in Rasen territory and regular forays into the twenty two were starting to take their toll. Dave Starling received a yellow card as ON’s increased the pressure and as the skipper trudged to the touchline a quick tap penalty resulted in prop David Irvine forcing his way over the line. Goodman’s conversion left ON’s only two points adrift with 10 minutes left to play and a man advantage.
Worse was to follow as Rasen debutant Luke Torres joined his skipper in the sin bin leaving his side to cope with 13 men for the final six minutes.
Rasen’s prime objective now was to retain possession, but cometh the hour, cometh the man and Chris Everton was that man. As the forwards drove the ball on the wily scrumhalf darted through a gap before chipping ahead. The inexperienced Simmonds was struggling with the kick as Everton was upon him and the Rasen man scooped the ball up into the path of supporting Ben Chamberlin for the number eight to gather and crash over the line for a crucial score.
The final two minutes seemed like an eternity, but Rasen held out and ended the game with a penalty kick to touch following an unsavoury incident where ON’s scumhalf Baker informed the referee that he may as well send him off, which he duly did with a yellow card. However nothing could take the gloss off this historic win.
The forwards again set the platform for the victory, but despite the weather conditions there were also glimpses of the attacking potential of the backline where the halfback partnership is blossoming as the vital lynchpin between backs and forwards.
The yellow cards made for a nervous finish, but the collective spirit and determination of those still on the field was something to be admired. After an indifferent start to the season the last two weeks have shown that the side is making progress and if this continues they can become a match for any side in the league.
This Saturday Rasen make the relatively short trip to Paviors, who are currently one place below the red and greens in the league after suffering defeat at the hands of Mansfield.
Teams: Rasen: Southwell, Alldridge, Cole, Inman, Pytlik, Starling C, Mills, Chamberlin, Everton C, Sutton, Lawton, Robinson, Starling D, Harvey, Everton P. Subs: Ashton (Southwell), Torres (Inman), Pridgeon (Lawton)
ON’s: Irvine, Cort, Brew, Hughes, Piggott, Napier, Fulthorpe, Howes, Barker, Goodman, Rose, Croft, Spencer, Simmonds, Seymour. Subs: Edwards, Ibrahim, Shrimpton