Rasen travelled to Coalville knowing they had been fortunate to extricate themselves in the home game with a last minute score in November.
And by a strange quirk of fate the tables were turned in this game as the red and greens succumbed to the final play of the match.
Rasen began the game superbly taking the play to the opposition before a piece of individual brilliance from Chris Everton opened the scoring in the first minute. The forwards drove into Coalville before the scrumhalf spotted a gap and shot through it midway into the opposition half before chipping the advancing fullback and winning the race for the touchdown.
Flyhalf Matt Sutton added the conversion, but Coalville recovered well and Rasen would only rediscover their true capabilities in isolated pockets throughout the remainder of the match.
The departure of skipper Dave Starling with an injury was a blow to the red and greens with Coalville now slowly gaining the upper hand in terms of possession.
However against the run of play Rasen made their way onto the edge of the Coalville twenty two where Everton intelligently switched the play blind for winger Freddie Norton to make an incisive arced run that took him around the defence to cross the whitewash.
Coalville’s efforts were eventually rewarded seven minutes later when flyhalf George Blackburn landed a penalty and thereafter for the remainder of the half Coalville laid siege to the Rasen line.
Determined defending just managed to keep the resurgent Coalville at bay and it was the visitors who were happiest to hear the half time whistle blow, albeit still holding a 12 – 3 lead.
Rasen made a measured start to the second period, but disaster struck in the eighth minute when Sutton’s long pass was intercepted by winger Joel Pennington, who sped in unopposed under the posts to leave Blackburn with an easy conversion to bring his side within two points of the red and greens.
The introduction of substitute number eight Stewart Tang was paying dividends for Coalville as the burly forward created havoc in the Rasen defence and eventually the home side’s passion and endeavour paid off with Blackburn slotting another penalty to give Coalville the lead.
Buoyed up by this score, Coalville hammered home their advantage when a powerful run from Ben Argyle ended with the centre’s long reach just managing to get the ball down over the line close to the uprights. Blackburn made no mistake with the conversion and the signs looked ominous for the red and greens with 17 minutes remaining.
However Rasen showed their true attacking prowess when centre George Eddell gathered a Coalville kick and ran the ball back. His silky running glided past defenders before he linked with Nick Harvey. The winger took play on and as the defence closed in hard working flanker Jake Pryer was on hand to take a pop pass and dive over in the corner. Sutton’s touchline conversion tantalisingly hit the bar and bounced back to deny Rasen the additional points.
Five minutes later there was more Rasen enterprise as Everton darted down the blind side before linking with lock Will Thornes. The big forward, who had carried well throughout the game, powered his way forward before the backs took over. Eddell and Sutton executed perfect draw and passes to put Harvey away, but it still needed the winger to step out of a tackle before he could cross the line.
Rasen had now clawed their way back into an unlikely lead and only had to see out the remaining seven minutes. Unfortunately the red and greens currently struggle with the old Woodward TCUP (think calmly under pressure) adage and Coalville came back with a vengeance.
With time running out, Coalville bravely kicked a penalty to touch, even though another successful kick would have given them the lead. The lineout then resulted in a series of scrums where there was added drama as Rasen props Matt Ashton and Danny Wootton both required lengthy treatment that prolonged the agony.
With the final scrum Rasen were penalised and scrumhalf Jack Tointon took advantage of the visitors’ unreactive defence with a quick tap and dart for the line. Blackburn added the coup de grace with a well struck conversion to signal the end of the game.
Coalville deservedly won the game, but Rasen could have done so much better and were beaten because the resolve and application of their opponents far surpassed their own.
The absence of senior players continues to leave a void in on field leadership, particularly with the early departure of skipper Starling, and too many players lost focus at crucial times.
After an excellent first half to the season, the side are in danger of losing their way and perhaps without the spectre of relegation, mental attitude has slipped.
However the problem is not insurmountable, but the whole match day squad needs to be functioning and that begins on the training field.
Teams: Rasen: Ashton, Alldridge, Wootton, Carson, Thornes, Pryer, Starling D, Spencer, Everton C, Sutton, Norton F, Eddell, Gutteridge, Harvey, Robinson. Subs: Crowe (Starling D), Pytlik (Wootton), Starling M (Norton F)
Coalville: Flanagan, Rotstein, Gonsalves, Claypole, Morris, Quail, Jarram, Chamberlain, Tointon, Blackburn, Griffin, Moretta, Argyle, Pennington, Nelson. Subs: Grant, Tang, Nash.