Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 12 Paviors 1st XV 50
RASEN opened their league campaign with a mixture of excitement and trepidation following promotion last season and a pre-season hampered by absences and injuries.
Playing in a change white strip Rasen were put under early pressure by a lively Paviors team resulting in the home side conceding a flurry of penalties.
Smart interplay from lock Nathan Eggleshaw and winger Jaz Kelly opened up the Rasen defence as Eggleshaw crashed over for the first score with fly half George Billam adding the conversion with only five minutes elapsed.
This early set back galvanised the Rasen forwards who took the next scrum against the head and followed this up with a series of drives, reminiscent of the previous season.
It was now Paviors turn to be on the retreat as Rasen drove forward to create an opening for winger Adam Dearden to dive over in the corner.
An error from the restart allowed Paviors to regain possession and following a series of missed tackles, the visitors moved the ball wide for winger Kelly to glide in for a try.
Rasen re-grouped with back row Dave Starling and Rob Mitchell combining effectively to make inroads through the visitors’ defence, but a poor final pass brought the attack to an end.
Unfortunately Rasen couldn’t shake off their proclivity for conceding penalties and in the 23rd minute Billam drilled a penalty kick deep into Rasen territory.
At the resulting lineout Paviors executed a perfect catch and drive before releasing number eight Adam Taylor to gallop over the whitewash close to the posts, giving Billam an easy conversion.
Paviors extended their lead and picked up a try bonus point as centre Doug Billam, who had caused the home defence problems all afternoon, broke through some ineffectual tackling before offloading to winger Bob Ratcliffe, cutting back inside to wrong foot the defence.
The beleaguered Rasen side then suffered a further setback as hooker Will Oliver was forced to leave the field with an injury five minutes before the interval.
Debutant fly half Barry Whalley was unable to convert a penalty chance before the break, which came with Paviors holding a 24–5 advantage.
The second half didn’t begin any better for Rasen as more strong running from Doug Billam opened up the defence in the fifth minute, flanker Nick Barratt on hand to capitalise on his teammate’s run to score under the posts.
George Billam added the simple conversion to put the Nottinghamshire side out of sight.
Three minutes later Barratt added a second try following good handling before hooker Ash Watts delivered the perfect pass into the flanker’s grateful hands.
Despite the proverbial mountain to climb, Rasen continued to battle away and a quick tap penalty from young scrumhalf Tom Barker initiated the start of a Rasen attack that culminated in number eight Dave Starling meandering his way to the line.
Whalley added the conversion to give Rasen some reward for their efforts.
In the 26th minute the Paviors forwards were driving the home side inexorably towards their own line when their forward momentum was brought to a halt by pulling the maul down.
A penalty looked inevitable, but the referee gave the ultimate sanction and awarded Paviors a penalty try much to the surprise of both sets of supporters.
Undeterred Rasen continued to look for another score, but a turnover enabled Paviors to clear up field and despite good covering work by flanker Leigh Dearden, the Rasen man was isolated and conceded a penalty for holding on in the face of the superior Paviors numbers.
A quick tap from the penalty put substitute Lee Charity in for the final score of the match, converted by the assured Billam.
Rasen launched one brave final attack and proceeded deep into the Paviors twenty two, but another turnover saw Paviors break out, only to be thwarted by a further Rasen penalty offence.
The penalty was kicked deep into the Rasen twenty two and shortly after the resultant lineout the game came to close.
This game clearly showed the increased intensity required to compete in this division.
Paviors deserved their victory on the basis of superior application and speed of thought, but Rasen can take some positives from the game.
The set scrum was solid and more than held their own, whilst the driving play of the forwards caused the visitors problems.
On occasions the backs produced some strong running, but first up tackling was often conspicuous by its absence.
Rasen: Cole, Oliver, Starling C, Chamberlin, Hutchinson, Mitchell, Dearden L, Starling D, Barker, Whalley, Grint, Jones, Mc Dain, Dearden A, Everton P
Subs: Murphy (Everton P), Rose (Hutchinson), Southwell (Oliver)
Paviors: Studholme, Watts, Dixon, Eggleshaw, Gray, Barratt, Brewer, Taylor, Wilson, Billam G, Kelly, Mangham, Billam D, Ratcliffe, Graney
Subs: Charity (Mangham), Fawcett (Eggleshaw), Langan (Barratt)
Next week Rasen travel to Kettering for a 3pmk kick off. Travelling support would be very much appreciated.