Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 32-22 Newark 1st XV
With the unveiling of the new electronic scoreboard and a sizeable crowd it was fitting that the club’s nearest rivals, Newark, were the visitors for the day in a match that turned out to be a classic tale of two halves.
After a bright start from Newark, Rasen turned the ball over to set skipper Dave Starling loose to carve through the visitors defence before neat interplay from his support put flanker Jake Pryer in for the first score. Centre Meehal Grint made no mistake with the conversion to give the red and greens the perfect start.
Newark restarted with purpose, but a lack of precision that was to punctuate their game throughout the afternoon was the catalyst for the next Rasen score two minutes later.
A Newark kick was charged down and as the ball broke loose number eight Ben Chamberlin gathered it to roll back the years and hare up the touchline for Rasen’s second try. Grint’s boot delivered the extras before Newark hit back with a break from centre Tom O’Leary that left several Rasen defenders playing statues.
With Newark’s progress halted illegally, fly half Matt Cox stroked the penalty between the uprights to put the visitors on the scoreboard.
From a set scrum just inside Newark’s half, Chamberlin picked up from the base to work the blind side, ably supported by Chris Everton. The scrumhalf took the ball on as John Norman ghosted up from fullback to receive the inside pass that put him on a clear path to the whitewash. Grint completed his hat trick of conversions to extend the lead and then it was back to the Chamberlin show.
The number eight put in another telling break before popping the ball inside for Paul Gutteridge to finish off a regulation winger’s run in to secure the try bonus point in the 32 minute. For once Grint’s unerring boot failed and following an anguished cry everyone was left in no doubt as to what the kicker felt about it.
Despite the scoreline, Newark were still in the game and it was only Rasen’s clinical finishing that was keeping the sides apart. The visitors finally got their act together as the forwards took a lineout and drove at the heart of the home defence that splintered as Newark continued their march to the line. Rasen regrouped, but it was too late to halt the Newark momentum, with number eight John Webster driven over the line with four minutes of the half remaining. There were no further scores before the interval with Rasen retaining a 26–8 advantage.
The second half began as the first had ended with both sides vying to gain the upper hand. The balance was tipped in Rasen’s favour after 11 minutes when Newark hooker Ian Tomlinson’s shoulder charge earned him a yellow card for non use of the arms in the tackle.
Rasen maintained the pressure and were rewarded when Grint landed a well struck penalty to consign his earlier kicking aberration to the distant memory.
Despite being a man down it was Newark who went on the offensive to push Rasen deep into their own twenty two. As the Newark forwards drove on, there was a personal battle occurring at the side of the maul with Chris Starling taking blows to the body from Newark’s Webster before the two of them broke off and Starling, with the Newark man still clinging around his neck, managed to pin him to the ground to avoid further damage.
The two protagonists were summoned by the referee who reached into his pocket to brandish a red card, rather incredulously for both players.
Rasen cleared from the resultant penalty, but Newark had the bit between their teeth and continued to lay siege to the red and green ramparts. Restored to 14 men Newark’s relentless pummelling eventually breached the line with Tomlinson forcing his way over in the 26th minute. Mark Byrom slotted the conversion and clearly belief of a miraculous comeback was coursing through Newark’s veins.
Two minutes later Grint put a dent in their aspirations with another calmly struck penalty to restore the differential.
However Newark were not done, but the unforced errors began to creep back as they chased the game and Rasen looked to be building a promising attack of their own until James Stark’s interception. The Newark flyer glided to the line unopposed to dot down under the posts to leave Byrom with a simple conversion that he duly added.
This left a fraught four minutes remaining as Newark sought another try for a bonus point, or more fancifully two converted tries for a victory. However Rasen were not going to capitulate and regathered their composure to see the game out without further calamity.
This was clearly a game of two halves with Rasen’s first half display winning the day before Newark’s comeback in the second. In a tight game opportunities can be few, but Rasen’s finishing was clinical as they took their chances to create a big hill for Newark to climb.
There is no game this week with the league resuming on January 31 when Rasen travel for a tricky fixture at Old Northamptonians, currently sitting second in the league and looking to gain revenge for the defeat they suffered at Willingham Road.
Teams: Rasen: Haig, Alldridge, Cole, Mills, Dearden L, Starling C, Pryer, Chamberlin, Everton C, Robinson, Gutteridge, Grint, Starling D, McStay, Norman. Subs: Everton P (Norman), Southwell (Cole), Inman (not used)
Newark: Tinsley, Tomlinson, Barnsdale, Primett, Williams, Hubbard, Tatham, Webster, Byrom, Cox, Britten, Tate, O’Leary, Usher, Mackie. Subs: Garland, Stark, Shiels