Derby 1st XV 15 Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 3
RASEN faced a daunting trip to league leaders Derby, but on a blustery afternoon the red and greens acquitted themselves well and were in contention for the full 80 minutes.
The young Derby side made a confident start, but Rasen responded to the challenge and were soon deep in Derby territory as flanker Ben Chamberlin was narrowly beaten to the touchdown in a race for the line.
Rasen kept up the pressure, but then conceded a penalty allowing Derby to clear the danger.
Unfortunately this set the trend for much of the game as both sides worked their way into promising positions and then lost their momentum with unforced errors or needless penalties where holding on in the tackle became a favourite.
With 16 minutes gone, Derby kicked a penalty deep into the Rasen twenty-two and secured the lineout, allowing centre Ben Marlow to slice through some nondescript Rasen defending to open the scoring. Winger Roome added the conversion to bring further joy to the home supporters.
Five minutes later disaster struck as skipper Ollie Cole was left prostrate on the ground after a trademark run was halted by some zealous Derby defending and the prop had to be lead from the field to take no further part in the game.
Derby were just shading the possession, but neither side could stamp its authority on the match as both teams squandered good opportunities.
Prop Chris Starling broke out of defence and fed winger Nick Harvey whose pace took him deep into Derby territory before the hosts conceded a penalty, only for Rasen to respond in kind following the resultant lineout.
Having previously opted to put seemingly kickable penalties into touch rather than build a score, Derby changed tack, only for Roome to miss with the final chance of the half.
As the whistle blew, Derby departed the field for the sanctity of their dressing room whilst Rasen stuck with their grass roots tradition and remained outside.
Whatever happened behind the closed doors of the home dressing room had an immediate effect as number eight Tom Taylor-Dawes collected a loose kick and set off on a long run causing panic in the red and green ranks.
He was eventually downed in the Rasen twenty-two, but moments later Derby were awarded another penalty for in at the side and Roome slotted the kick with the aid of an upright to give Derby the perfect start to the half.
However Rasen kept up their competitiveness and three minutes later their hosts reciprocated, giving fullback Meehal Grint his first kick at goal, which he landed with ease.
The tit for tat penalties continued as first Derby fell foul of the law at a five metre scrum when a poor pass had forced centre Paul Cook to concede the minor and then Rasen infringed.
The latter proved decisive as Derby kicked to touch and won the lineout to drive flanker Todd Bullions over the line for their second try.
Thereafter Derby became strangers to the Rasen twenty-two except for on one occasion when they mounted a series of drives close to the red and green line before the ball popped out and the scavenging Chamberlin nabbed it to charge up field.
After the second Derby try Rasen had plenty of possession, but couldn’t turn it into points and for the second time this season Derby had realised they had been in a game, but their clinical finishing had won the day and left Rasen empty handed.
A gritty performance against a good side, but the players can only be left wondering what could have happened if they had maintained their composure at crucial moments in the game.
This week Loughborough are the visitors to Willingham Road following a victory this week that has lifted them to one place above Rasen in the league table.
They will no doubt be keen to avenge their narrow one point defeat in the away fixture in what should be an enthralling game, kicking off at 2.15pm.