Rasen returned to action with a trip to Peterborough and emerged from the seasonal sojourn with an impressive start.
An early penalty gave Rasen field position allowing the backs and forwards to combine, pushing play closer to the home line.
A crash ball from centre Adam Beasley created another ruck before fly half Matt Sutton’s long pass found Tom Alldridge lurking out wide.
The hooker powered his way to the line to register his first try for the club, but an indiscriminate knee in the back from a desperate Peterborough defender precluded Alldridge from taking any further part in the game and deprived Rasen of their specialist, which certainly affected their lineout efficiency thereafter.
Sutton composed himself after the long injury break to land a superb conversion from wide out.
Rasen maintained their momentum with a strong run from number eight Chris Mills that gave Sutton a drop goal opportunity, but the kick was off target and gave Peterborough the opportunity to draw breath after the whirlwind start from their visitors.
A penalty kick to touch took Peterborough into the Rasen twenty-two with possession secured at the resulting lineout.
Peterborough number eight Peter Kolakawski, who provided a focal point for his side throughout the match, instigated the initial drive for the line and ably supported by the pack, lock Ben Crooks forced his way over the whitewash.
Rasen responded in positive fashion and were soon back deep in Peterborough territory where a series of forward drives almost produced another score as prop Chris Starling was held up over the line by some desperate defence.
However Rasen were given notice of the threat posed by the home backline when a loose ball was fed to rangy fullback Vernon Horne, whose silky running ate up the ground as he raced forward.
Frantic defending eventually brought him down and a subsequent penalty cleared the danger.
Rasen failed to heed the warning when Sutton launched a high kick. Poor chasing from the Rasen midfield gave Peterborough time to field the ball without any undue pressure and release Horne again. The flying fullback’s arced forty metre run skirted around the visitors’ defence to give his side the lead for the first time. Despite this setback Rasen remained bullish and another failed drop goal attempt from Sutton was quickly followed by a line out steal from skipper Dave Starling who shredded the home defence before finding scrumhalf Jack Noquet in support. Noquet chipped ahead, but the last defender, winger Chris Sansby, impeded him with a late charge to earn himself a yellow card. The referee then awarded a penalty, but not a penalty try and Rasen opted for the scrum. Peterborough were unable to contain the Rasen eight and conceded two further penalties that were reset as scrums before Noquet took matters into his own hands and tapped the next one to scamper over the line to put Rasen back into the lead. With the last kick of the half Sutton attempted an ambitious long range penalty that fell short, but as Peterborough cleared the ball it appeared that they were more relieved to hear the whistle than Rasen who held a slender 12 – 10 lead.
Rasen began the second half brightly bringing fullback Karl Ward into the play on two occasions, but it soon settled into a cat and mouse affair with each side vying for an opening. The red and greens controlled play for long periods with the forwards keeping Peterborough on the back foot, but turnover ball on the edge of the home twenty two proved fatal as the dangerous Peterborough backline broke out in the sixteenth minute. With red and green defenders back pedalling, the overlap was created for Sansby to gallop in at the corner to make amends for his earlier sinbinning and restore the lead. The game remained nip and tuck with much of the play taking place between the respective twenty two’s until Rasen conceded a penalty and Peterborough scrumhalf Richie Warlow became the first successful home kicker. In the gathering gloom the action gravitated towards the stand side of the pitch where the home supporters were becoming ever more vocal and Peterborough were slowing down the game with impunity. With two minutes remaining Sansby slipped down the blindside to score in the corner for a double whammy of securing a try bonus point and putting the margin beyond a losing bonus point scenario. However Rasen had displayed admirable character throughout the game and were not done yet. A final penalty was drilled to touch close to the home line and with a final throw of the dice, Peterborough managed to get a finger tip to the throw only to see the alert Dave Starling pounce on the loose ball to score and wrestle back the losing bonus point. Sutton’s conversion attempt just about summed up Rasen’s day as it hit the post, so near and yet so far!
Despite the long layoff the red and greens put in a creditable performance and the opening stages of the game showed the true capabilities of the side. The early loss of Alldridge was definitely a hindrance, but the players pulled together to maintain a positive attitude. The major difference between the two sides was the number of unforced errors where Rasen spilled more ball than the opposition, but there were certainly more positives to be taken out of the game than negatives.
Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Ashton, Chamberlin, Inman, Dearden L, Starling D, Mills, Noquet, Sutton, Everton P, Beasley, Goodison, Harvey, Ward