Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 68-6 Lincoln 1st XV
RASEN were in the pink on a glorious sunny afternoon as they put the disappointment of last week’s cup final defeat behind them to become the champions of Midlands 2 East (North).
And they did it in style with a 12 try demolition of relegated Lincoln.
An early lineout exposed Lincoln to Rasen’s deadly catch and drive, which they executed to perfection to give prop Chris Starling the opening score in the third minute.
Flanker Rob Mitchell, who had been irresistible in the away fixture at Lincoln, charged at the heart of the visitor’s defence determined to mete out the same punishment and create another good attacking position, before a Lincoln knock on gave Rasen a scrummage.
Skipper Dean Hutchinson picked up from number eight to charge over with Matt Neesham adding the conversion.
Lincoln made a brief foray into Rasen territory and an indiscretion gave their young scrumhalf the opportunity to land a well struck penalty.
Regarding this as an act of impudence, Rasen replied almost immediately as prop Ollie Cole took the ball blind before slipping it back inside for lock Ben Chamberlin to crash over the whitewash.
Within three minutes, the Rasen juggernaut took a scrum against the head to take the ball blind, and a superb angled run from the oft neglected winger Peter Everton, cut through the Lincoln defence for a classy finish under the posts to secure the bonus point within the first quarter. Matt Neesham added the conversion and Rasen were out of sight.
Lincoln battled on gamely to double their tally with another penalty before a long run from centre Adam Dearden took Rasen within striking distance of Lincoln’s line.
Working like a well oiled machine, the forwards recycled the ball for the unstoppable Cole to force his way over for another try.
Moments later Cole found himself deep in his own twenty-two as he cradled a Lincoln kick into his safe grasp.
With the crowd expecting another charge, the prop threw an outrageous dummy that left his would be tackler totally bewildered before executing a perfect kick to touch to receive whoops of adulation from the sidelines.
As half time came Rasen had a comfortable 29 – 6 lead, but with the game won and the championship secured there was now an opportunity for the team to celebrate in style.
Mitchell opened the half with a devastating run that left several defenders tossed aside before he was eventually brought to a halt, but prop Starling was on hand to grab his second try close to the uprights.
Matt Neesham added the conversion to heighten Lincoln’s fears of an avalanche of points with 38 minutes still remaining.
Chris Starling completed a hat-trick of tries in the 12th minute, which was a fitting reward for a player who has put in tireless work throughout the season in the dark recesses of forward play.
The arch try scorer Rob Rigby was yet to get on the score sheet, but he was the architect of the next score with a powerful cross field run that cut open the Lincoln defence before the ball reached substitute winger Chris Green.
The diminutive Green sped towards the line before his somersault was just enough to reach the whitewash.
There was much speculation over the acrobatics, but having kept the bench warm for several weeks, Green was just happy to get a run out.
His joy doubled following an incisive run from fellow substitute Rory Murphy when the ex Lincoln player spotted Green in the clear and fired out a long pass to him to finish off the score.
By now Lincoln were totally shell shocked and left a gaping hole on the blind side, which scrumhalf Andy Neesham exploited by finding centre Anthony Jones unmarked to gambol over the line and dot down under the posts. However Green’s earlier exuberance was short lived as he missed the simple kick.
In such an open game it was almost inevitable that the try machine Rigby would keep up his magnificent average of a try per game and the flying winger duly obliged in the 31st minute with another strong run.
The final score came as flanker Leigh Dearden seemed to mesmerise the Lincoln defenders with his idiosyncratic style of running, as they were left grasping for the ball like children trying to prise a coin from the hand of a wily uncle.
As he ran out of steam, Andy Neesham was on hand to take the scoring pass and finish off under the posts with fly half Owen Denovan adding the conversion to round off an emphatic victory.
With a game to go Rasen are champions and everyone involved with the squad should be congratulated for the hard work and effort that has gone into this achievement.
The sharing of the kicking duties still shows that this is an Achilles heel for the side, but with only two points required to rack up 1,000 points for the season in all competitions, it would be churlish to criticise too much.
The season is rounded off next week with a trip to second placed Loughborough, who will be keen to put in a good performance before their promotion play-off game against Peterborough Lions.
However Rasen will not rest on their laurels and will also be striving for one final victory.
Team: Starling C, Southwell, Cole, Chamberlin, Calverly, Mitchell, Dearden L, Hutchinson, Neesham A, Denovan, Everton P, Jones, Dearden A, Rigby, Neesham M
Subs: Bullivant (Southwell), Green (Everton P), Murphy (Calverly)