Market Rasen and Louth were found wanting in too many areas as they fell to defeat in a disappointing match at Huntingdon on Saturday.
Coach Matt Sutton firmly believes the side is capable of much more, and with a cluster of clubs only separated by seven points in their quest to avoid the third relegation spot, there is no time for complacency.
The match was a lacklustre affair, but playing down the slope it was Rasen who drew first blood following some early pressure when fly-half Dan Robinson slotted a penalty in the fourth minute.
Huntingdon took this early setback in their stride and were soon deep in Red and Green territory.
A nice inside pop pass from scrum-half Jack Skidmore sent James Thorp, charging through a gap for the line. Rasen’s scrambling defence temporarily halted the attack, but support drove the hosts over the whitewash, and Dan Malem added the conversion.
This prompted a spell of territorial supremacy for the Stags, but it did little to threaten Rasen’s line as the two sides misfired despite the occasional flash of endeavour from both.
Cameron Wallis followed on from his solid debut with some incisive broken field running from full-back, but Adam Dearden paved the way for Rasen’s opening try.
From a set scrum in midfield, the ball was moved to the veteran centre whose powerful run cut through the home defence. The attack was held up over the line as Huntingdon conceded a five-metre scrum.
The Rasen eight were rock solid and with the ball taken blind, Robinson jinked through to put the visitors ahead, 8-7 at the interval.
The visitors started the second half sluggishly and soon conceded a penalty. Huntingdon took the lineout and patiently worked through the phases until the Red and Greens ran out of cover and Simon Rose crossed the line on the overlap.
Malem added the conversion and after 15 minutes of dull rugby, he stretched the Stags’ lead with a well-struck penalty.
The game paused for a long break for a head injury, but Huntingdon continued with the same personnel.
Rasen finally showed a bit of spark as they came back into the game and drilled a penalty into touch.
From the lineout, the forwards secured possession and a well-worked peel resulted in number eight Dave Starling charging over the line.
Robinson redeemed his earlier miss with the conversion and Rasen were just two points adrift with 15 minutes left.
But the Red and Green glimmer of hope was quickly extinguished as they switched off, allowing Huntingdon flanker Andy Mourits to run through a leaden-footed defence.
By the time he was tackled the damage had been done and the supporting Thorp ambled in under the posts to leave Malem with a simple conversion.
Shell-shocked by this immediate reply, Rasen had to chase the game and were caught out again in the closing minutes.
Roger Shakespeare broke clear down the wing with a turn of pace before putting in a delicate kick ahead which was latched onto by substitute prop Russ Polson for a bonus-point try which gave Huntingdon a rather flattering 29–15 win.
There is another break in the league schedule this weekend so the Red and Greens return on Saturday, March 25 when bottom club Ilkeston visit Willingham Road.
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Haig, Mills, Chamberlin, Grant (Grey), Pryer (Crowe), D. Starling, C. Everton, Robinson, Stephens, A. Dearden, Goodwin, Holvey (M. Starling), Wallis.