Rasen ran high-flying Old Northamptonians close to secure a losing bonus point from a game where a draw would probably have been a fair result.
Having beaten Northampton Old Scouts the previous Saturday, the Red and Greens travelled with confidence, hoping to turn over the second-placed side.
But things didn’t go according to plan as Rasen lost their first scrum and ONs took full advantage.
The forwards moved the ball to within sight of the visitors’ line where a simple long cut-out pass put in centre Mike Bellamy for the opening try after only three minutes, converted by Billy North.
There was a lucky escape when ONs number eight Drew Hudson charged through a huge hole in midfield to set up another attack which Rasen somehow managed to stifle and scramble away.
After these early setbacks, Rasen grew into the game and forced the hosts on the defensive.
The early scrum mishap was eradicated as the Rasen eight began to gain the upper hand.
Having turned over an ONs scrum the forwards and backs combined for scrum-half Chris Everton to dart in at the corner.
Dan Robinson’s excellent touchline conversion drew the sides level.
The young fly-half then launched a towering up-and-under which the ONs defence failed to deal with.
Desperate to staunch the flow, the hosts conceded a simple penalty which Robinson kicked to put the visitors ahead.
Rasen’s soft midfield underbelly was exposed again when Bellamy sliced through to set up Oldman for a clear run to the line.
Jake Pryer’s brilliant tap tackle toppled the winger, but ONs support was quicker and prop Zach Draper powered over to restore the lead.
In this seesaw first half, Rasen hit back again, forcing another penalty for Robinson to nudge the visitors back in front.
Sadly, Rasen did not learn from the earlier defensive frailties as the narrow defence was exploited again for James Hare to speed up the touchline for a typical winger’s finish. North’s well-struck touchline conversion stretched the lead to 19-13.
But there was still time for Robinson to peg back the lead to 19-16 with another penalty before half-time.
Rasen shaded an even second half territorially without capitalising on their field advantage despite posing several problems with their attacking intent.
But the home defence stood firm to repel everything the Red and Greens could throw at them.
After 19 minutes of intense rugby, Robinson levelled the match at 19-all with yet another penalty.
Both sides had their moments in attack and presented a determined defensive front in a frenetic final quarter, but the turning point came with 10 minutes left.
The ball was spun wide for substitute Dan Odita to show his electric pace and outsprint Rasen’s covering defence for a try in the corner.
The visitors spent the last eight minutes deep in ONs territory, but the home defence held firm, aided by a couple of penalties, and the game finished with a very relieved home side kicking the ball dead from the final penalty.
Rasen paid the price for some slack defending in the first half, but rectified it well in the second period.
The team is continuing to evolve week on week as their confidence grows, and things can only get better as long as there is a commitment to training to iron out the remaining kinks.
* The league schedule resumes, after a blank weekend, with the visit of Paviors to Willingham Road on Saturday, February 11 (2.15pm kick-off).
Rasen: Haig, Alldridge, Southwell (C. Starling), Mills, Inman, Grant (D. Starling), Pryer, Chamberlin, C. Everton, Robinson, Stephens, White, Gutteridge, Harvey (Holvey), Goodwin.