RUGBY: Reds and greens fail to deliver and pay the price

Chris Starling brushes aside the Bedford defence
Chris Starling brushes aside the Bedford defence
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Bedford Athletic 1st XV 42 Market Rasen & 
Louth 1st XV 7

For the second away game in succession the red and greens failed to deliver when they visited Bedford Athletic on Saturday.

Bedford began confidently at a high tempo looking to bring their dangerous backline into play at every opportunity and opened the scoring in the sixth minute.

With tackling seeming to be an alien concept for many of the visitors, Bedford easily broke through the defence to create an overlap for winger Tommy Mills to run in unopposed wide out.

After this early set back Rasen looked to have made some recovery when a dominant scrum won a penalty and the stage was set for a catch and drive close to the line. However the opportunity dissipated as Bedford stole the ball to clear with Rasen suffering their first lineout malfunction, a problem that would hamper them throughout the afternoon.

Bedford made no mistake with their own set piece to collect a lineout in the Rasen twenty two before their forwards drove flanker Luke Levitt over the line for another try. As the Rasen error count mounted Bedford were quick to counter attack from all areas of the field.

A promising Rasen attack faltered as possession was lost and Bedford fullback Ben Johnson took full advantage with some elusive running before linking with Paul Ryder. The centre chipped the ball over the bedraggled oncoming defence and Johnson was on hand to claim the ball for his first try of the afternoon.

Now facing an uphill struggle Rasen reverted to their strength with the forwards making inroads deep into Bedford territory through a series of well controlled pick and drives.

As they entered the home twenty two all the hard work was undone by a poor pop pass that was seized on for Bedford to launch another high speed counter attack ending with Johnson scorching down the wing to give Bedford a 20–0 lead at the interval.

Bedford began the second half where they had left off as their dynamic game drove Rasen back before Ryder breached the midfield defence again to offload for lock Sven Meiland to stroll over the line.

As Rasen were trapped in their twenty two they gained a temporary respite with Bedford number eight Rob Watkins sin binned, but it wasn’t long before Bedford were on the front foot again. Frantically defending another Bedford attack as it gained momentum,

Rasen were penalised and then marched a further 10-metres back for dissent. Bedford opted for the touch kick and then after successfully gathering the throw headed for the Rasen line.

The forward impetus seemed to have been resisted, but when Tom Orton dummied to pass out the Rasen defenders took it hook, line and sinker to allow the scrumhalf to dart through the cavernous gap left by the now shamefaced men in red and green. Fly half James Mortimer landed his first successful kick of the afternoon.

Two minutes later Orton turned from hero to villain to receive a 10-minute break after being yellow carded for a stamping offence.

With Bedford temporarily down to 13 men this should have been a golden opportunity for Rasen.

After a surge up field Bedford were forced to concede a penalty on the edge of their twenty two and Rasen drilled the ball into touch. Sadly the lineout continued to misfire with the try line in sight and the ball was overthrown for Bedford to gather and launch another counter attack from their own twenty two.

When Rasen eventually halted this attack it was done so illegally and Bedford intelligently opted for a kick at goal to nudge them further ahead and eat into the sin binning time. Mortimer calmly slotted the kick to give his side a 35–0 buffer going into the final quarter.

There was no let up from Bedford with their final score probably being the best try of the game. Quick ball from a lineout allowed the backs to work some magic with deft handling bringing Charlie Darlow into play from his wing position before Johnson finished the move to complete his hat trick. Mortimer landed the conversion, but there was still time for Rasen to gain a consolation score.

The lineout that had spluttered back into life as the game progressed provided the platform as the Rasen forwards edged closer to the line. Number eight Ben Chamberlin took the ball down an uncharacteristically unguarded blind side to cross the whitewash. Dan Robinson nailed the tricky conversion, but it was too little too late for the red and greens.

Rasen were caught cold by a good Bedford Athletic side that was much quicker in thought and deed. The performance was made worse by a lack of precision resulting in a proliferation of unforced errors and the absence of a defensive pattern exacerbated by an inability to make first up tackles.

The lineout did improve as the game went on, but early lapses in what is usually an efficient part of the Rasen armoury added to the disappointment.

On a positive note the 
side didn’t give up and continued to work for the full 80 minutes.

There is no game next week, but league action resumes at Willingham Road on November 15 when Belgrave are the visitors for a 2.15pm kick off.

Teams: Rasen: Haig, Alldridge, Cole, Inman, Dearden L, Starling C, Mills, Chamberlin, Gregory, Everton C, Pridgeon, Robinson, Starling D, Harvey, Everton P. Subs: Southwell (Cole), Pytlik (Inman), McStay (Pridgeon)

Bedford Athletic: Neale, Elliott, Taylor, Middleton, Meiland, Levitt, Hughes-Brand, Watkins, Orton, Mortimer, Mills, Ryder, Simpson, Darlow, Johnson. Subs: Pickles, Reed, Dolemore