The Red and Greens blew away the memory of last week’s NLD Cup debacle with their second league win of the season at Paviors on Saturday.
In previous seasons, victories at Burntstump Hill have been few and far between, but Rasen arrived with remarkable confidence and began the game strongly.
They soon had Paviors defending deep in their own 22 after a series of powerful drives from the forwards, but after drilling two penalties in succession into touch, the Rasen catch and drive was, for once, repelled.
The visitors were soon back on the front foot and went ahead through Dan Robinson’s penalty in the ninth minute following a yellow card for Paviors centre Doug Billam.
Rasen were unable to capitalise on the extra man and it was Paviors who went on the offensive as their driving play put Rasen’s line under siege.
The pressure paid off with Rasen straying offside to present the hosts with a simple penalty. But fortune was smiling on Rasen as fly-half Jonty Green pulled the kick wide.
Six minutes later flanker Jake Pryer was in full flow, panicking the home defence as he broke through tackles at will.
He was eventually felled in the Paviors’ 22, but a smart offload found full-back Paul Gutteridge who fed Nick Harvey for a classic winger’s finish in the corner.
Rasen were on top, but the old fallibilities began to resurface as tackles were missed. And when a strong run from centre Matt Molyneux opened up the visiting defence, winger Jack Pearson ran around under the posts.
Green made no mistake with the conversion to bring Paviors within a point of Rasen.
The Red and Greens were still full of confidence, and a well-worked backline move opened the midfield defence for Harvey to charge upfield. Scrambling defence caught him in the 22, but good support play allowed George Grant to take the scoring pass for his maiden first team try.
Robinson’s conversion sent Rasen in 15–7 up at half-time.
But within two minutes of the restart Pryer was in the sinbin and Paviors took advantage.
First Billam slipped through a gap to cross the whitewash, and two minutes later giant prop Steve Allen brushed aside the visiting defence to canter through another gaping hole and put Paviors ahead for the first time. Green added the conversion.
Rasen recovered their composure, and with Pryer still in the bin, Rasen patiently worked their way upfield through the forwards and probed for an opening from an attacking lineout.
Paviors’ defence remained resolute so the ball was released for the backs who worked their magic and after some neat interplay Tom Stephens sliced open the Paviors defence, and powered over the line to put Rasen back in front.
This proved to be a turning point as Paviors were pinned back in their own half until the dying stages.
With Rasen’s pack controlling proceedings, Paviors held out until 14 minutes from time when a catch and drive from e penalty lineout began an assault on the home line.
Finally the defence was breached for substitute prop Pete Southwell to burrow his way over.
Paviors were still within a score, but they were dealt a fatal blow when Robert Ratcliffe’s attempted tackle dislodged the ball and the referee adjudged it to be a deliberate knock-on and a sinbin offence.
The forwards continued to work the phases before centre Josh White’s half-break was latched on to by Harvey who grabbed his second try. Robinson added the conversion.
Paviors were not done and with the final play of the game, Green’s perfect cross-kick found Pearson who ran in almost unopposed at the corner.
But it was too little, too late as Rasen completed a richly-deserved victory.
On Saturday, Rasen return to Willingham Road where third-placed Bugbrooke are the visitors (kick-off 3pm).
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Haig (Southwell), Mills, Chamberlin, Grant (Pilkington), Pryer, D. Starling, M. Starling, Robinson, Stephens, White, Goodwin, Harvey, Gutteridge.