Second-half flurry proves the silver lining in heavy defeat

Jake Pryer charges forward.

Jake Pryer charges forward.

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Midlands One East

Derby 60

Ollie Cole is brought to a halt at Derby.

Ollie Cole is brought to a halt at Derby.

Market Rasen & Louth 12

After last week’s morale boosting win, the Red and Greens travelled to Derby with a sense of optimism, despite some last minute changes in the starting line-up.

But first half indiscipline and Derby’s pace shattered Rasen’s hopes of collecting any league points.

The opening plays saw the game see-saw from one end of the field to the other, but a George Castledine penalty in the eighth minute set Derby, second in the Midlands One East, on their way.

Rob Batterbury looks to gain ground.

Rob Batterbury looks to gain ground.

Slick handling from the pacy Derby backline forced Rasen to scramble back in defence and, with the line in sight, the visitors seemed to have stemmed the flow, but as the ball broke loose fly half Josh Bingham reacted the quickest to touch it down.

Derby grabbed control of the game and built up a lead through three further Castledine penalties as Rasen continued to infringe at regular intervals. During the course of this indiscipline, Jake Goodison picked up a yellow card minutes after returning to the field after a period of absence through injury.

Tormentor in chief Castledine added two tries and conversions, sandwiching a drop goal from Bingham, to leave Rasen with the impossible task of overturning a 34-0 lead at the interval.

Things didn’t get any better at the start of the second half as Derby increased their lead within three minutes of the re-start. Smart handling put Sanjay Sharma in the clear and, after a long touchline run, the winger was hauled down just short of the line.

Fullback McGrath van Wyk was on hand in support to take the scoring pass before Castledine added the conversion.

Staring down the barrel at 41–0 down with 37 minutes to go, one would have been forgiven for thinking that Rasen were down and out. But somehow they dug deep and began to play their best rugby of the game.

At last the Red and Greens found some cohesion as they began to find holes and went through the phases to gain field position.

In the 15th minute the pressure told with the award of a penalty within sight of the Derby line. Expecting a kick to touch, Derby were momentarily caught napping as Goodison tapped the ball to feed substitute Ollie Cole on the hoof at full tilt.

The Rasen leviathan was unstoppable from short range and the visitors were now on the scoreboard.

Rasen continued to play with purpose as Derby were no-longer having things all their own way and found themselves reduced to 14 men with the sinbinning of Bingham. In the circumstances Rasen were willing to attack from anywhere as Paul Gutteridge launched a counter attack from deep in his own half.

The winger exploited the additional space and sped up field unencumbered, outpacing the home defenders until he reached the Derby twenty-two. With one man to beat, Gutteridge fixed the defender and put supporting centre Rob Batterbury in for a try under the posts to leave an easy kick for Goodison.

After this purple patch from Rasen, Derby returned to scoring as a long cut out pass following a set scrum found Van Wyk wide out and his pace did the rest.

Rasen continued to battle to the end, but fatigue resulted in Derby scoring two further breakaway tries through Sam Tebbs and Ben Trembling, with Castledine adding a further conversion, to see Derby run out winners 60–12.

Rasen had entered this game with high hopes, but Derby’s league position reflects their ability and quite simply Rasen were beaten by a better side.

The Red and Green cause was not helped by the first half penalty count that enabled Derby to lay the foundations of their victory, but it is something that can be worked on and needs to be corrected.

It was not all gloom and doom as Rasen can take heart from their mini revival that showed real character and by putting Derby under pressure they were able to gain some consolation. The side needs to move on and prepare for the next game without dwelling on this score line particularly as Matlock and Newark were both on the wrong side of similar results - and have yet to meet Derby again.

RASEN: C. Starling, Seward, Haig, Inman, Carson, L. Dearden, Pryer, Chamberlin, M. Starling, Goodison, Gutteridge, Brown, Batterbury, Stephens, Norman; Subs: Cole (Carson), Grint (Goodison), Wise (Stephens).

On Saturday, Rasen travel to Huntingdon, who narrowly defeated the Red and Greens at Willingham Road (2.15pm).