Kettering 1st XV 29 Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 3
A spirited display from a Rasen team showing five changes and two positional switches from the previous week’s line up produced an improved performance.
But a cruel bounce and the youthful exuberance of the home side meant that the red and greens left Kettering still looking to register their first league points of the season.
Rasen conceded an early penalty, with Kettering showing their intentions, as scrumhalf Tom Bridgeman took a quick tap and Rasen were penalised again for not retreating 10 metres, to give fullback Joe Daniels a shot at goal.
The kick narrowly missed the target and after averting this early score Rasen came back with renewed confidence as the forwards, whose reputation had preceded them, went through the phases and denied Kettering the ball while making progress into the host’s territory.
The two sides continued to vie with each other in cat and mouse style as each strove to gain the upper hand before the deadlock was broken in the 17th minute when Kettering’s Daniels struck a 45 metre penalty.
Minutes later, Rasen were reduced to 14 men when winger Mihal Grint’s Samoan style hit was penalised for no use of the arms.
In truth the ferocity of the impact had been so great that the Kettering player had bounced off Grint before he could wrap his arms around him to complete the tackle, but this cut no ice with the referee.
Kettering looked to capitalise on their numerical superiority as number eight Rory Keir burst through a gap in the Rasen defence only to watch in disbelief as his pass was knocked on by supporting scrumhalf Bridgeman.
The home side kept up the pressure as rangy fullback Daniels made a dangerous lateral run to stretch the red and green defence before linking with winger Paul Sumner.
Rasen managed to halt his progress, but close support from Keir resulted in the number eight crashing over for the opening try with Daniels adding the conversion to stretch the lead.
Rasen maintained their composure and were eventually rewarded with a kickable penalty opportunity in the 35th minute.
However, they opted for the touch kick to set up an attacking lineout, but unfortunately the red and greens couldn’t secure possession and the siege gun boot of Daniels pushed them back into their own half.
In this tight encounter Kettering played keep ball to run down the clock to half time and as the whistle blew, the final outcome was still in doubt.
Kettering conceded an early penalty as the second half kicked off allowing fly half Barry Whalley to take full advantage and put Rasen on the score board with three points.
Kettering’s early jitters continued as the restart failed to travel 10 metres and Rasen opted for the centre field scrum, but were unable to construct anything from it.
The turning point came in the 11th minute when Daniels counter attacked before launching another huge kick, which took a wicked bounce to evade the Rasen defenders and rebound into the arms of the chasing fullback, by now racing at full tilt, to score in the corner.
Further Rasen disruption occurred in the 19th minute as Whalley was forced to leave the field injured leading to a major reshuffle moving Grint to fly half and pulling the dangerous running of flanker Dave Starling onto the wing with substitute Sam Routledge slotting into the back row.
Kettering had calmed their early nerves and a quick tap penalty from scrum half Bridgeman caught Rasen napping as he put in his halfback partner Andy Byrne for a try under the posts leaving an easy conversion for Daniels.
In the 32nd minute, having been awarded a penalty in the Rasen twenty two in front of the posts, the blues spurned the kick and opted for a scrum in their quest for a fourth try.
The red and greens offered stout resistance, but three minutes later a deft chip over was gathered by winger Sumner to grab the important fourth try and the reliable boot of Daniels added the conversion.
With time running out Rasen continued to show spirit and launched one final attack, but turnover ball resulted in Kettering making a 70 metre break out, before the chasing red and green defence managed to snuff out the blue’s final effort.
Despite the result there was a visible improvement from last week.
However, a harsh lesson was learned as Kettering punished the sin binning and it is evident that at this level it will be difficult to ride out any diminution in numbers.
Rasen: Starling C, Dearden L, Cole, Chamberlin, Young, Rose, Starling D, Thornes, Barker, Whalley, Grint, Jones, Neesham A, Dearden A, Murphy
Subs: Barr (Rose), Black (Young), Routledge (Whalley)
Kettering: Crooks, Ling, Osbourne, Poole, West, Chapman, Newman G, Keir, Bridgeman, Byrne, Sumner, Newman J, Rainbow, Nield, Daniels
Subs: Griffiths (Keir), Kean (Ling), Webb (Byrne)
l Next week Rasen welcome Lincolnshire rivals Spalding to Willingham Road for a 3pm kick off.