Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 31 Spalding 1st XV 10
IT was third time lucky for Rasen as they secured their first win of the season, but there was no luck involved as the team put in a controlled performance to overcome rivals Spalding.
Playing in the change white strip Rasen began confidently and went through the phases to drive Spalding deep into their own half, forcing the visitors to concede a penalty in the fifth minute.
Fly half Barry Whalley narrowly missed the kick, but two minutes later made no mistake following a further Spalding indiscretion to give Rasen an early lead.
The visitors were clearly rattled as the restart flew straight into touch to give Rasen a centre field scrum and another attacking opportunity.
Keeping control of the ball, the home forwards worked their way back up the pitch and had their opponents back pedalling.
A concerted forward effort drove prop Chris Starling over the line, but with the referee unsighted, the ball was worked back for lock Leigh Dearden to take the plaudits as he was awarded the try on a second surge. Whalley nailed the conversion to emphasise Rasen’s early dominance.
From the restart flanker Dave Starling cut a swath through the visitors feeble tackling to create an overlap where quick hands found centre Dan McDaid in the clear to run in his first try for the club.
Whalley added the conversion and with a quarter of the game gone Rasen appeared to be in complete control against their surprisingly lacklustre opponents.
However, after these early set backs, Spalding suddenly awoke from their ponderous repose and attacked Rasen with the vigour and verve that had been expected from the outset.
A delicate chip from fly half James Williams caught the home defence flat footed as centre Jordan Andred collected the ball to run over the line, but the referee adjudged him to be in front of the kicker and the score was ruled out.
Spalding were denied again minutes later when lock Mark Haighton’s strong running created havoc in the Rasen defence before his pass putting Williams in the clear was deemed to be forward.
Spalding continued to keep Rasen pinned in their own half and speedy winger Ollie Phillips’ electric run down the touchline was thwarted just short of the line by a superb cover tackle from fullback Peter Everton.
The visitors’ persistence was eventually rewarded when Williams slotted a penalty.
Rasen responded positively as burly centre Anthony Jones incisive run took play deep into Spalding territory to create another attacking platform for the forwards.
Two phases later the ball was released to the backs and McDaid cut back inside to power his way over for a second score. Whalley slotted the conversion to give Rasen a deserved 24 – 3 half time lead.
A severe dressing down from the visiting coach left his charges in no doubt about his thoughts on their somnambulant display in the first quarter, but it had the desired effect as Spalding made a dynamic start to the second period.
Early penalties were taken with quick taps to inject some pace into their game before the ball was drilled deep into Rasen territory.
With eight minutes gone Spalding secured good line out ball before driving inexorably towards the Rasen line.
Despite valiant defence, Spalding’s forwards were irresistible as prop Anthony Buckberry drove over the line close to the posts to give Williams a simple conversion.
The game was now much more evenly contested than it had been in the first half with both sides taking turns to attack.
With 17 minutes gone wily veteran scrumhalf Andy Neesham squeezed through a gap in the fringe defence to put winger Adam Dearden in for a try wide out to secure a bonus point.
Whalley maintained his fine kicking form and landed the conversion, but despite the scoreline, Rasen knew they couldn’t rest on their laurels and memories of Spalding snatching victory after falling behind at Willingham Road on their last visit stiffened their resolve.
However, as the game wore on with Spalding playing catch up more errors crept into their play and several promising attacks came to nought, as final passes went astray or were fumbled.
With five minutes remaining Leigh Dearden received a yellow card, but Spalding were unable to capitalise on this as two minutes later substitute Ben Hausermann received his marching orders and the two sides were left to finish the game with 14 men.
With one final attack, Spalding’s flying winger Phillips looked to have skirted around the home defence, but once again fullback Everton showed his defensive prowess and cut the youngster down short of the line.
Next week Rasen are back on the road with a trip to Peterborough.
Rasen: Starling, Oliver, Cole, Dearden L, Chamberlin, Rose, Starling D, Thornes, Neesham A, Whalley, Grint, Jones, McDaid, Dearden A, Everton P
Subs: Harvey (Rose), Murphy (Dearden A).
Spalding: Rowlands, Dowse, Buckberry, Haighton, McNally, Hoyles, Ankar, Duerden, Lucas, Williams, Phillips, Andred, Beeken, Brown, Williamson
Subs: Charlton (Beeken), Hausermann (Ankar), Shakespeare (Rowlands).