Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 10 Peterborough Lions 1st XV 6
In a classic cup tie that befitted the status of the two teams sat at the pinnacle of their respective leagues, Rasen’s home grown talent eked out a hard fought victory against the international legion of Peterborough Lions.
The early part of the game belonged to the red and greens as the forwards quickly got into their stride and demonstrated their power in the initial set scrums, which Peterborough Lions found difficult to cope with.
Going forward skipper Dean Hutchinson picked up at number eight to drive a hole through the fringe defence before offloading to scrumhalf Chris Everton.
The youngster cut through another gap to send winger Rob Rigby on his way to the line, but after making good ground, the flyer was adjudged to have put a foot in touch.
Rasen were winning the territorial battle, but couldn’t press home this advantage, and when the Lions did have the ball in hand, their backline looked menacing as they attempted to spread the play wide.
A fracas erupted as lock Jim Calverly, clearly incensed at something, set about the opposition in an altercation that cost him and his assailant ten minutes in the bin.
The Lions fly half fired off an invective at the referee and found himself joining his teammate on the sidelines to give Rasen a temporary one man advantage.
Within two minutes, the visitors were a further man down as their number six received a yellow card and trotted off.
Matt Neesham slotted the penalty home and Rasen took a deserved lead. However, this seemed to galvanise the Lions and despite their two man disadvantage, they forced Rasen onto the back foot with their driving attacks.
Peterborough Lions did manage to get over the line, but courageous defending kept the ball up and the visitors were unable to open their account to leave Rasen 3-0 ahead at the interval.
The Lions began the second half as they had ended the first and were soon deep in Rasen territory.
The visitors’ attacks were relentless and eventually the valiant Rasen defence capitulated with a penalty that the visiting fly half struck home to bring the sides level.
The red and greens were finding it difficult to break the Lions stranglehold and four minutes later the fly half landed another penalty to give them the lead.
Going into the last quarter with leaden limbs from the stamina sapping pitch, Rasen faced an uphill struggle.
As the red and greens came back into the game, the Lions resorted to time wasting tactics in a cynical effort to count down the clock.
With coach Simon Green exhorting his troops to remain patient, Rasen continued to control the ball, only to give possession away as fly half Owen Denovan attempted a drop goal that never left the ground.
The adrenaline was furiously pumping in players and supporters alike as Rasen regained possession for the forwards to surge towards the line.
Under this intense pressure Peterborough inevitably conceded a penalty close in, but with their hooker departed through injury and all front row replacements utilised they felt the spectre of uncontested scrums would be their saviour.
Alert to the situation, Rasen opted for a tap penalty taken in by prop Ollie Cole, but once again Peterborough conceded another penalty to halt the home drive.
Undeterred, Rasen set off on their task again, and with the hands of Cole and flanker Rob Mitchell firmly clenched around the ball, the Rasen juggernaut drove them over the line to share the vital score.
With nerves of steel, Matt Neesham nailed the conversion from wide out, extending the lead beyond a penalty kick or drop goal.
The players had given their all in a passionate performance, exemplifying the spirit that is engendered in the club.
Rasen will now look to the cup final, where they face Stoke, currently sat fourth in Midlands 2 West (North), who defeated Towcestrians 19 – 7 in the other semi-final.
Next week it’s back to league action with an away trip to Belgrave.
Team: Starling C, Southwell, Cole, Chamberlin, Calverly, Mitchell, Dearden L, Hutchinson, Everton C, Denovan, Everton P, Jones, Neesham A, Rigby, Neesham M
Subs: Bullivant (not used), Scheepers (not used) Thorns (for Calverly)