RUGBY UNION: Market Rasen canter to next round of cup

Dave Starling makes the tackle against Sleaford
Dave Starling makes the tackle against Sleaford

Rasen progressed into the next round of the NLD Cup at a canter after a whirlwind start that promised so much fizzled out into abject complacency.

The red and greens opened the game with ruthless efficiency scoring three tries within 
the first nine minutes as Spalding barely laid a hand on the ball apart from restarting play.

From the kick off the Rasen eight drove at the heart of the Spalding defence, pulling them from one side of the field to the other before creating an overlap for winger John Norman to score his maiden first team try.

Rasen repeated the dose creating space for number eight Ben Chamberlin lurking in the backline to stroll over the whitewash. When Dan Robinson danced his way through the Spalding ranks with ease to register a third Rasen try a cricket score looked a distinct possibility, but Spalding briefly rallied forcing the visitors to concede a penalty.

Young fly half Josh Broome’s well struck kick sailed through the uprights to raise his side’s spirits, but this was short lived as Rasen created another huge overlap. Skipper Dave Starling took the ball on and classically drew the last defender delivering a perfect pass for Norman to grab his second with a regulation winger’s run in. Fullback Meehal Grint took over the kicking duties after Robinson’s earlier failures prompted the change and made light of his first attempt to push Rasen further ahead.

Broome replied almost immediately with another successful penalty kick, but Rasen’s monopoly on possession meant another score was imminent. Fly half Matt Sutton’s perfectly weighted chip caught the Spalding defence flat footed as it bounced into Norman’s hands.

The young winger raced forward and repaid his skipper with an exquisite inside pass leaving Dave Starling the simple task of running the try in close to the posts. Grint slotted the conversion before Rasen were stunned by Spalding’s swift riposte.

After being besieged for much of the half, Spalding mounted a period of pressure and their forwards pushed Rasen back after a series of drives for flanker Liam Richardson to cross the whitewash.

With their pride dented Rasen went back on the offensive, but brave defence from Spalding kept Josh Lawton out at the corner with the winger’s attempted score being penalised for a double movement. Rasen rounded off the half with a well worked try from a lineout as prop Ollie Cole peeled round and fed Chamberlin to drive over the line from close range. Grint added the conversion to give Rasen a comfortable 36–11 lead at the interval.

Despite all of the scoring exploits the high point of the half came from prop Cole who skilfully gathered a pass behind him one handedly before turning to pirouette and execute a perfect grubber kick to touch.

The platform had been laid in the first half, but the avalanche of points never materialised in the second period as imprecision and possible complacency set in.

Spalding opened the scoring after the interval through the trusty boot of Broome with his third successful penalty, but Rasen’s forward supremacy was underlined as the red and green pack pushed the home side back on their own put in for Chamberlin to pick from the base of the scrum and power his way over the line to complete a hat trick.

Thereafter the game became disjointed as a combination of Spalding’s spirit and Rasen’s dip in concentration evened up the possession, whilst the home side never looked like scoring another try, equally the visitors did not make the best use of their share of the ball.

There were brief glimpses of the quality that had been on display in the early stages of the match when the Rasen forwards went through the phases before Grint cut back from the wing to slice through the defence for the penultimate score.

The final score lit up what was becoming a dreary second half as Rasen took another scrum against the head before the ball was taken blind. Swift transference found substitute winger Ben McStay just inside his own half with lightning speed the youngster set off for the line feinting inside before veering back out again and putting on the after burners to leave the defence stranded in his wake as he galloped in under the posts for his first try in first team colours.

The youngster then had the honour of converting his own try, which he did with great aplomb to round off the scoring to see Rasen safely into the next round with a 55–14 victory.

This game mirrored the league encounter with Rasen starting well and then being unable to maintain the early tempo to ram home their undoubted supremacy. Spalding had improved, but they are still a young side suffering a traumatic season and Rasen should have exploited that, but instead took their foot off the gas.

With the game won it was understandable with harder league games to come, but there was no excuse for the lack of imprecision in basic skills where the number of forward passes was disappointing.

There was some quality play and by maintaining high standards it should become imprinted as a state of mind that could prove vital in close games. Never-the-less a win is a win and Rasen are now in the semi-finals of the competition.

This Saturday it’s a return to league action where Derby are the visitors to Willingham Road for a 2.15pm kick off.

Teams: Rasen: Haig, Alldridge, Cole, Mills, Pytlik, Starling C, Pryer, Chamberlin, Gregory, Sutton, Lawton, Robinson, Starling C, Norman, Grint. Subs: Dearden L (Pytlik), McStay (Lawton), Southwell (Cole).

Spalding: Waudby, Caley, Hutson, Piccaver, Deurden, Richardson, Waltham, Brown H, Shields, Brrome, Browne, Brown G, Chappell, Moore, Seconde. Subs: Booth, Barratt, Ozbourne.