RUGBY: Market Rasen victory far from convincing

Henry Spencer
Henry Spencer
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Market Rasen saved the best till last as they eked out a victory against a Coalville side that probably deserved more out of this game.

The first half was played in miserable conditions with driving rain that mirrored Rasen’s apparent abject attitude to the game.

Coalville began strongly with a driving game that had Rasen back pedalling and conceding early penalties before lock Daniel Claypole burrowed his way over the line to give the visitors the lead in the seventh minute.

Despite having the wind advantage, Coalville kept Rasen prisoners in their own half giving fullback Sam Blackburn a penalty chance that missed the target. This clearly played on his mind as at the next penalty, which wasn’t long in coming, he opted for a tap kick, but fumbled it forward to give Rasen the initiative.

At last the home side showed some urgency as the ball was driven up field, with young number eight Henry Spencer in the vanguard. As play reached the Coalville twenty two bustling prop Matt Ashton took the ball on and smashed his way over the line to bring the sides level. Centre Meehal Grint slotted the conversion to ease Rasen into the lead and moments later he had another kicking opportunity, but couldn’t land a penalty.

This created a brief resurgence in red and green ranks, but Coalville’s harassment prompted turnovers and eventually visiting centre Ben Kemp ghosted through a blind side gap to put the Leicestershire side back in front.

Rasen responded well and forced their way deep into the Coalville twenty two, but as the ball was spilled forward, Blackburn decided to run out of trouble and with a combination of silky running and poor tackling almost reached half way. Coalville continued forward until Rasen wrestled back possession, but then gifted Ben Argyle a soft try, as the winger intercepted a pass to sprint unopposed under the posts.

Blackburn finally found his kicking boots to add the extra two points.

The second half began badly for Rasen, conceding two early penalties, one of which was converted by Blackburn, and then the dismissal of lock Will Inman from the restart, yellow carded for taking a man out in the air.

In the face of this adversity Rasen dug deep and rekindled the spirit that had been sadly lacking for much of the first half. The slumbering red and green machine sparked into life as the forwards began to punch holes and Coalville were forced onto the back foot.

Coalville conceded a penalty and were then marched a further ten metres closer to their line for preventing Rasen’s quick tap. With the line out malfunctioning Rasen opted for another tap and drove on before the ball was popped to prop Ollie Cole, arriving at full tilt to force his way over the line.

Despite this set back Coalville came back again and a penalty kick gave them an attacking lineout within striking distance of the Rasen line. Inman went some way to redeeming his earlier indiscretion by stealing the lineout to allow Rasen to clear the danger.

Coalville maintained the pressure and Rasen afforded Blackburn another kick at goal, but the fullback’s attempt fell short of the target even with the assistance of the wind.

Rasen then found another injection of energy to push the visitors back into their own territory, compelling them to concede a penalty that Grint sent sailing between the posts.

The red and green revival continued to keep Coalville hemmed in, but the visitors were maintaining a staunch defence until a loose kick was gathered and spun wide to Peter Everton who had joined the line. The fullback’s pace was too much for the trailing defenders as he crossed the whitewash to bring the sides level with seven minutes to go.

The drama continued three minutes later when Rasen presented Coalville with yet another penalty, and despite his earlier failures, Blackburn was up to the task this time as his crisp kick gained the touch judges approval.

Coalville now had to keep Rasen pinned in their own half to close out the game and as the time ebbed away they looked to have achieved their goal by remaining camped in the home twenty two. However one final piece of indiscipline was to prove costly for the visitors.

Rasen were awarded a penalty, but with no time for a lineout a clearance kick was out of the question and so the long trek to the opposition line began with a tap.

With a mixture of sheer determination and consummate skill Rasen went through countless phases, patiently working their way up field and recycling the ball. As the Coalville line moved ever closer the final decisive gap appeared and a jubilant Matt Sutton dashed over the line wide out to score. To add insult to injury, Grint then mastered the tricky wind and landed a superb conversion to end a pulsating game that had come to life in the last quarter.

It was a win with a bonus point, but this was far from a complete performance. The early stages of the game were dire as Coalville gained the upper hand through a combination of their own skill and some ineffectual tackling, aided and abetted with a lack of determination and urgency from the red and greens.

This Saturday Rasen travel to Derby, who are currently sat in second position in the league table and had their own nail biter this week with a one point victory at Mansfield.

Teams

Rasen: Ashton, Alldridge, Cole, Mills, Crowe, Dennis, Chamberlin, Spencer, Everton C, Sutton, Robinson, Grint, Eddell, Harvey, Everton P

Subs: Bullivant (Ashton), Inman (Crowe), Starling M (not used)

Coalville: Flanagan, Rotstein, McLean, Chamberlain, Claypole, Quail, Rumming, Wallace, Gadsby, Blackburn, Griffin, Kemp, Keeling, Argyle, Blackburn.