There was deja vu at Market Rasen RFC as elementary errors and poor defending handed their opponents the initiative for the second week running.
With a mountain to climb against Newark, Rasen battled for two late tries to make the scoreline more palatable, but the 33-24 loss was still hard to take.
The opening stages were indicative of two struggling sides lacking in confidence where fear of making mistakes was uppermost.
Newark overcame their nerves and almost led through Callum Slack, but a last-ditch tackle bundled the winger into touch and forced him off injured. This gave an early introduction to substitute Ben Usher who gave a match-winning display.
Claiming a missed touch, Usher shredded Rasen’s defence, breaking several half-hearted tackles to allow supporting flanker Tom Coen to stride over. Dan Mackie added the conversion.
Nine minutes later Newark won good possession from a lineout and moved play into midfield. Usher slipped through a gap in the on-rushing defence and dotted down near the posts to give full-back Alex Scott an easy conversion.
Usher gathered another poor clearance kick as he continued his one-man demolition job.
Breaking tackles at will, he linked with Scott who cantered in under the posts to leave himself another simple conversion and Rasen in tatters after half-an-hour.
But Rasen dug deep and found a new energy as the forwards stepped up a gear to drive at Newark’s defence.
The Rasen eight controlled the ball through numerous phases and eventually drove substitute Leigh Dearden over the line.
Facing a tricky wind, full-back Meehal Grint’s expert conversion gave his side hope at half-time, 21–7 adrift but with the wind advantage for the second half.
The home side began well, extracting a penalty out of Newark within a minute, and Grint did the rest from distance.
Rasen had most of the possession, but struggle to find a way through dogged defence.
After soaking up the pressure, Newark launched a rare attack and broke Rasen hearts as they worked the ball wide for Usher to sprint in at the corner.
Worse followed when Rasen substitute Peter Everton was harshly yellow-carded. Usher took full advantage to complete his hat-trick, outflanking the over-stretched defence.
Scott’s conversion took Newark out to a 33–10 lead with just 12 minutes left.
Having dominated the set scrum throughout, the Red and Greens’ eight took full advantage when an opportunity presented itself.
They shunted Newark backwards from the five-metre line, allowing number eight Ben Chamberlin to pick up from the base and power over the line.
Grint landed the conversion.
Newark looked to end the game deep in Rasen territory, but the hosts won back possession and threw caution to the wind.
In a sweeping counter-attack, Rasen charged upfield with neat interplay before Dave Starling powered his way towards the line.
A defiant Newark defence hauled him down, but the centre moved the ball on superbly for the supporting Greg Wise to dive over.
Grint put the conversion over from wide out, but it was too little, too late.
The squad must decide what they really want from the second half of the season and commit to it. There is enough spirit and ability to move up the Midlands One East table, but this must be worked on at the training ground.
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Haig, Mills, Crowe (Southwell), Chamberlin, Pryer, Thornes (L. Dearden), M. Starling, Wise (P. Everton), Berger, Brown, M. Starling, Goodwin, Grint.
* Rasen resume their league programme following the festive break with a visit to Newbold-on-Avon on Saturday, January 9.