Derby 1st XV 35 Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 28
The red and greens travelled to Derby for a double header with league points and a place in the next round of the NLD cup at stake.
Derby began confidently as their well drilled forwards put Rasen on the back foot and forced them to concede early penalties. Derby managed to get over the line, but Rasen held them up and gained a brief respite.
From the five metre scrum number eight Luke Willmott picked up and took the ball to the narrow side before feeding scrumhalf Phil Robinson to dart through a gap to open the scoring in the fifth minute.
However the red and greens were undaunted by this early onslaught and opened their own account two minutes later. As the ball moved across the field, Nick Harvey left his wing and demanded an inside switch. Supremely confident with the ball in his hand, the Rasen flyer’s pace and choice of angle sliced open the home defence as he galloped from just inside the Derby half to score under the posts. Fullback Meehal Grint added a regulation conversion to give Rasen the lead.
Stunned by the swift riposte, Derby now knew they had a game on their hands and drove back at Rasen. A high tackle resulted in a penalty, converted by George Castledine to restore Derby’s lead.
The home side kept Rasen pinned back in their own half and punished a missed touch clearance. The ball was quickly switched to the other side of the field for centre Ben Marlow to force his way over the line close to the corner.
Again the red and greens showed remarkable resilience as the forwards built an attacking platform following a penalty lineout. With play in midfield just outside the Derby twenty two, Grint steamed up from fullback to burst his way through the first line of defence and had just enough reach to dot the ball over the line with a defender clinging to him. Grint converted his own try and Rasen were back in front again.
As the seesaw tipped again, Derby responded through their forwards as they rumbled over the line following a catch and drive from a penalty kicked to touch. Derby rounded off the half from another scrum with Willmott breaking blind again to give the forward impetus before Ollie Saffell ghosted up from fullback to take the scoring pass. Castledine added the conversion to give the home side a 25–14 lead at the interval.
With the game nicely poised Rasen began the half well with a series of forward drives and were given a bonus when Derby flanker Tom Taylor-Dawes was yellow carded in the ninth minute.
Rasen took full advantage as centre George Eddell appeared to have committed a cardinal sin by ignoring an overlap before his brilliant offload out of the tackle was taken by fly half Matt Sutton to dive over the line. Grint maintained his kicking record to add the extras to put Rasen only four points behind.
Another careless penalty, with several backs offside, allowed Castledine to increase Derby’s buffer before they were restored to 15 men.
Much of the following play took place in the centre portion of the field as neither side could gain the upper hand until it was Rasen’s turn to be handicapped with the sin binning of number eight Henry Spencer. Derby seized their opportunity to turn the screw and stole a scrum against the depleted Rasen pack on the edge of the twenty two. Willmott again picked from the base and drove into the visiting defence before finding support for Derby to extend their lead, Castledine again adding the conversion with 13 minutes to go.
Rasen were in no mood to capitulate and dug deep as they intensified their efforts to fight their way back into Derby territory. A penalty kick to touch provided the opportunity with hooker Tom Alldridge’s precision throw then finding the target to set up a catch and drive. The forwards edged closer to the line to drive flanker Ben Chamberlin over for a vital fourth try. From wide out Grint’s unerring boot landed the conversion that crucially brought Rasen within seven points for a losing bonus.
With the final play of the game Rasen had a penalty deep in their own half, but the thoughts were far from unified with some wanting to run and bravely go for a draw and extra time in the cup while others pragmatically wanted to settle for the two league points and forgo the cup.
The tap was taken, but sensibility prevailed as the ball was soon put in to touch to preserve the two points that had been so keenly contested.
This was another display of real character against a strong side that has only tasted defeat once this season.
This weekend there is a break from league action and as of yet no fixture has been confirmed. There is a possibility that the Lincolnshire Cup game against Scunthorpe could be played, but this has yet to be confirmed so watch the web site for further details.
Rasen: Cole, Alldridge, Ashton, Inman, Crowe, Chamberlin, Starling D, Spencer, Everton C, Sutton, Robinson, Eddell, Beasley, Harvey, Grint
Subs: Pryer (Inman), Wootton (Ashton), Norton F (not used)
Derby: Long, Wilcox, Coombes, Esberger, Atherton, Reid, Taylor-Dawes, Willmott, Robinson, Castledine, Hancock, Marlow, Roome, Sharma, Saffell. Subs: Glover, Innocent, Hughes