There remained positive signs for Market Rasen and Louth RFC despite a heavy defeat to promotion challengers Kettering on Saturday.
Rasen went into the match without their most experienced prop and with Jake Pryer and Spencer Holvey filling in at centre and full-back respectively, where they both performed with credit.
Rasen offered glimpses of their capability and grit throughout the game, but Kettering were ruthless in punishing any errors, and there were too many with some poor tackling and wayward kicking in particular.
The side has yet to produce an 80-minute performance this season, but there were certainly some good points despite the 50-13 score-line.
Rasen started well as they stole a turnover and built through the phases to win a penalty after two minutes, well struck by fly-half Ed Nicholls to give Rasen an early lead.
But Kettering worked their way into Rasen’s 22 and after tidying up a scruffy lineout, prop Daniel Martin powered his way over for the opening try, converted by Bruce Keir.
The Red and Greens seemed to have more belief than usual and reacted positively. Nicholls took the ball blind to find Peter Everton, revelling in his new role at centre.
His quick footwork cut through the first line of defence and sped towards Kettering’s 22 before a last-ditch tap tackle brought him down. Rasen’s support was good and quick recycling saw the ball spread wide for Isaac Machon to sprint over the whitewash and restore Rasen’s lead.
Keir’s penalty nudged the visitors back in front before Jordan Butlin sent a grubber kick tumbling towards the Rasen line and fellow winger Paul Sumner won the race for the touchline to ignite a scoring bonanza in the second quarter.
When Kettering won a penalty deep in Rasen’s 22, they opted for a scrum which gave George Newman the platform to force his way over the line.
A loose clearance kick was then collected by Damien Conyard who reached the line after a touchline-hugging run thanks to strong running and ineffectual tackling.
The final score of the half owed more to brute strength than finesse when from a quick tap penalty, former Exeter Chiefs prop Brett Sturgess barrelled his way over to put Kettering 30–8 up at half-time.
Despite the scoreline, Rasen began the second half with purpose and soon had Kettering defending deep in their own territory.
The visitors conceded a series of penalties, without a hint of a yellow card in the red zone, and Rasen’s persistence was finally rewarded when prop Matt Ashton burrowed his way over.
Kettering came back with a vengeance as Timothy Bayes tore through a hole in the home defence before desperate tackling brought him down.
There was plenty of support and the ball was quickly flung to the opposite side for Conyard to scorch in at the corner.
With momentum regained, Stephen Fraher received a huge cross-field kick and muscled his way to the line for another score.
Two minutes later things got worse for Rasen when Nicholls received a yellow card for not rolling away at the tackle, a pretty difficult task for a diminutive fly-half when trapped under lumps of prime Kettering beef.
Sumner showcased his speed with a second try following the chase of his own kick, and as Rasen struggled with a man down, a dangerous late high tackle felled Peter Everton. But the incident went unpunished.
Excellent handling from Kettering, with backs and forwards combining, saw Newman hurtle down the touchline, with no defender barring his way, but George Grant’s lung-busting chase ended with the perfect cover tackle.
But Kettering had their final score when an outrageous dummy from Keir was bought by the tiring defence and the fly-half dotted down to bring up the half-century.
Rasen: Ashton, Alldridge, Southwell (Scuppham), Mills, Crowe, Grant, McKay, Chamberlin, C. Everton, Nicholls, Pridgeon (Young), Pryer,
P. Everton, Machon, Holvey.
On Saturday, Rasen make the epic trek to Leighton Buzzard.