Nuneaton Old Edwardians 1st XV 29
Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 28
RASEN missed a golden opportunity to escape the relegation dogfight in a topsy turvy game where a needless scrum penalty ultimately led to the decisive score.
An aimless bomb from Nuneaton was easily marked just short of the try line, but the resultant free kick failed to find touch and home fullback Jody Peacock stormed his way under the posts with barely a hand laid on him. This left a simple kick for Carl Hutchings to put Rasen seven points in arrears after only two minutes.
Rasen responded in positive fashion and the forwards were soon going through the phases causing the home defence to retreat and concede a penalty.
The red and green rapier in the form of the catch and drive was unsheathed and prop Chris Starling was driven over to give the perfect riposte three minutes after the home score.
After such a short time it was clearly evident that the two sides had different strategies, with Nuneaton looking to play a high tempo expansive game whilst Rasen would rely on their forward power.
A quick tap penalty caught the Rasen defence in disarray and a dereliction of tackling duties allowed the Nuneaton backs to carve out a try for winger Hutchings.
Another shock to the system galvanised the visiting pack to take control for the rest of the first half with two penalties from Meehal Grint bringing Rasen to within a point of their hosts.
A further penalty kick to touch launched a line out peel for Chris Starling to collect the ball and charge through the home defence like a demented bull. Grint added the conversion and Rasen looked good value for their half time lead of 18 – 12.
Nuneaton began the second half strongly and another quick tap penalty had Rasen conceding ground at an alarming rate.
After several phases flanker Alex Cape’s angled run opened up the red and green defence to score under the posts and Hutching’s conversion put his side back in front.
Rasen remained calm and set about building another position, which wasn’t long in coming.
Another lineout worked the ball infield to create a gap on the blindside and eventually the ball found hooker Will Oliver in the clear to touch down and restore the lead.
As Nuneaton pushed Rasen deep into their own twenty two, the forwards snaffled a turnover and with some excellent sleight of hand produced the counter attack of the day. But after a good run from lock Will Inman and smart interplay with Oliver, the youngster was deprived of a score just short of the line, which probably would have broken the hosts’ spirits.
Having weathered this red and green maelstrom, the tables were turned as first number eight Leigh Dearden received a yellow card and then Nuneaton engineered another score from quick off the top lineout ball that found the seemingly unstoppable Peacock joining the line from fullback to power his way over for his second try. Hutchings slotted the conversion and with 20 minutes left there was still plenty of time for more drama.
With 28 minutes elapsed, Rasen had another penalty and Chris Starling completed his hat trick following another well executed catch and drive to nose the red and greens back in front, but more importantly securing a try bonus point.
Having worked hard to restore the lead, a momentary lapse of concentration gave Nuneaton the opportunity they sought as the scrum penalty gave them field position and then after further pressure Rasen conceded the crucial penalty slap bang in front of the posts.
Hutchings made no mistake and Nuneaton then ensured the last five minutes were played out in Rasen territory, but the red and greens managed to hold out without conceding a further score to gain a losing bonus point.
This was a patchwork performance where there were periods of total dominance from the Rasen pack interspersed with poor defence and decision making.
The securing of two points from the game could yet prove vital and should not be overlooked. With two games remaining there are now seven clubs fighting for survival in this division, but a win of any description against Coalville with or without a bonus point will see Rasen clear of relegation.
The Coalville game is on Saturday April 14 at Willingham Road with a 3pm kick off and all club members are urged to make their presence felt on the touchline to cheer the boys to that vital victory.