Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 10 - 15 Bugbrooke 1st XV
For the third week in a row Rasen had to contend with the wind as they welcomed the Badgers of Bugbrooke for their first visit to Willingham Road.
Whilst the conditions were not as extreme as last week, there was a distinct advantage with the wind blowing up field at an acute angle to one touchline.
Bugbrooke had first use of the elements, but it was Rasen who made the better start as they drove their opponents back with a series of driving mauls. A fourth minute penalty was drilled to touch and hooker Tom Alldridge’s pinpoint throw found its target, allowing the Rasen eight to set up a drive for the line. The lineout had been malfunctioning in previous weeks, but this time the move was executed to perfection to drive Dave Starling over the line.
Bugbrooke recovered admirably after this early setback and demonstrated their capabilities when fullback Shaun Boyson joined the line at pace and sliced through the heart of the home defence. The red and greens rallied to snuff out the danger, but Bugbrooke were beginning to dominate possession and posing all of the questions.
A quick tap penalty from Bugbrooke was halted, but cost Rasen a further 10-metres for not retreating in the first place and the Badgers then opted for a touch kick deep into the Rasen twenty two. Bugbrooke emulated their hosts with a catch and drive to propel flanker Lloyd Saunders over the whitewash to bring the sides level. Boyson’s conversion was judged to perfection in the tricky cross wind to nose the Badgers into the lead.
Rasen were fighting a largely rearguard action interspersed with pockets of attacks that invariably petered out through unforced errors.
Another Bugbrooke attack was held up over the line before Starling was harshly adjudged to have made a high tackle with his opponent already ducking down. Boyson stepped up and displayed a remarkable mastery of the wind as he deliberately struck his kick wide of the uprights to allow the wind to pull it back and bisect the posts to give the visitors a 10–5 lead at the interval.
A one score deficit playing into the wind was a good return for the red and greens and hopes were high for a second half turnaround.
Rasen started brightly and soon had Bugbrooke deep in their own half with a scrum in the shadow of the posts. The Rasen set piece had been under a bit of pressure from their heavier counterparts, but on this occasion a quick strike from Alldridge secured possession and Rasen worked the ball wide to create an overlap for winger Nick Harvey and a certain try. Unfortunately the final pass was adjudged forward and play was brought back for a defensive scrum.
Five minutes later Bugbrooke landed what turned out to be the killer blow as they recovered from the early Rasen onslaught and took play into the Rasen twenty two. Noticing the referees arm outstretched for an impending penalty, scrum half Tom Wood reacted with lightning speed when the whistle sounded by taking a tap so quickly that from the touchline it looked like there had been no break in play before he darted over the line for a crucial score.
Rasen battled on with Matt Sutton restored to fly half, reuniting the preferred halfback pairing with scrumhalf Chris Everton, pinning Bugbrooke back into their own half with some precision kicking.
The red and greens created scoring opportunities, but stout defending from the Badgers managed to hold up two attacks over the line and some excellent defensive kicking into the wind from fly half Tom Davies kept Rasen at bay. Eventually the pressure paid off and Starling collected a second try in similar fashion to his first from another catch and drive at a lineout.
Playing catch up rugby is never easy as Rasen found to their cost last week and so it proved again with only five minutes remaining when a mixture of Rasen errors and canny play from Bugbrooke saw the Badgers home for a 15–10 victory.
This was a much better display than the one at Peterborough with some of this being attributable to changes in personnel, but a momentary lapse in concentration still proved costly.
However a lack of patience and precision appears to be creeping into the team’s game and the latter is symptomatic of the absence of training, albeit due largely to the adverse weather, but also the non-attendance of some players.
There were positives to take out of the game and the side can get back on track through improved application and commitment prior to match day.
There is a break in the league programme now and Rasen return to action on Saturday March 1 with a trip to Coalville.
Teams: Rasen: Ashton, Alldridge, Cole, Mills, Hutchinson, Pryer, Starling D, Spencer, Everton C, Sutton, Norton F, Eddell, Beasley, Harvey, Robinson. Subs: Gregory (Norton F), Pytlik (Cole), Thornes (Hutchinson).
Bugbrooke: Judge, Holding, Yates, Smith, Stockley, Saunders, Pattle, Fewster, Wood, Davies, Pepper, Wykes, Miller, Platt, Boyson
Subs: Dancer, Pooler, Swift.