Bedford Athletic 1st XV 31
Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 3
THE silence in the post match dressing room spoke volumes as the red and greens crashed to their fourth consecutive defeat to slip down the table to within five points of the drop zone.
In an inauspicious start, Rasen emerged from the dressing room in unfamiliar red jerseys loaned from the opposition while their own strip was languishing chez Dearden, won a penalty only to see it immediately reversed, conceded a converted try and watched giant home lock Martin Wolfenden yellow carded for a wild haymaker all in the space of the opening three minutes!
The Bedford try was well crafted with fullback Ben Johnson coming into the line to put winger Stephen Woodhead away, but defensive naivety in the Rasen backline failed to close down the space and gave the winger time to sprint around behind the posts, leaving fly half James Mortimer an easy conversion.
After this dramatic opening, the game settled down as the two sides vied with each other with the Rasen pack asserting their authority in the set piece, Bedford having the more adventurous and attacking back line while honours were even in the loose.
By half time, there had been no further clear cut chances and neither line had really been threatened, but even though Bedford had the territorial advantage for much of the half, Rasen must have felt that this slender lead could have been overturned after the interval.
A penalty from Mortimer after three minutes of the restart stretched the home side’s lead before five minutes later Bedford produced a carbon copy of their opening try, but this time on the opposite wing.
Johnson again provided the impetus as the Rasen defence stood off him, failing to commit to the tackle before he offloaded to Tommy Mills for an easy run in.
Mortimer’s immaculate boot added the conversion and Bedford were rapidly disappearing over the horizon with Rasen 17 points adrift.
Rasen then found some composure and put together a wonderful passage of play with backs and forwards combining to push Bedford deep into their own half, which resulted in a penalty for Meehal Grint to put the visitors on the scoreboard.
As the half wore on Rasen were visibly tiring and Bedford looked to take advantage of this with their expansive game.
Winger Mills looked to have added to his tally, but miraculously the ball fell from his grasp as he crossed the line.
However this was only a brief respite as five minutes later Mills found himself in the clear again and made no mistake, before the metronomic boot of Mortimer added the conversion to put the game out of reach.
A speculative long Rasen kick out of defence was fielded by Woodhead, whose electric pace scorched past two visiting defenders before Johnson arrived inside him to take the scoring pass that secured Bedford’s bonus point.
Mortimer rounded off a perfect kicking display with the final conversion to seal a worthy 31–3 victory for his side.
While injuries are clearly disrupting the side, today’s display was a jaded performance and the last quarter was clearly a struggle.
The players need to regroup with some serious soul searching to rekindle the spirit that was clearly evident earlier in the season before a losing mentality takes a fateful grip.
The frailty of the three quarters defence also needs addressing with some urgency to bring some shape back into the defensive line.
There is enough character in this first team squad to turn this around and a morale boosting win next week would provide a powerful rejuvenation.
Peterborough are the visitors to Willingham Road next week and the boys need your support, so turn up in force to get behind them and help them turn the corner to register that vital win.
Rasen: Southwell, Oliver, Cole, Mills, Thornes, Chamberlin, Starling D, Murphy, Starling M, Jones, Edell, Grint, Dearden A, Cunningham, Everton P
Subs: Dearden L (Murphy), Inman (Everton P), Nicholls (Cole)
Bedford Athletic: Taylor, Elliott, Neale, Middleton, Wolfenden, Polson, Watkins, Beagent, Orton, Mortimer, Mills, Levit, Lincoln, Woodhead, Johnson
Subs: Walsh, Lancaster, Baker