Market Rasen and Louth reached the final of the Lincolnshire Cup with a comfortable win against a highly-motivated Grimsby on Saturday.
Rasen had not locked horns with Grimsby for several seasons due to differing league fortunes, but Grimsby were certainly up for the derby battle against their higher league opponents.
From the outset Grimsby were clearly looking to unsettle their visitors as Rasen found it hard to get into their stride with back-rowers Harry Hawkey and Ash Rendall-Tyrrell won turnovers for the home side.
This early spoiling play brought Grimsby a penalty in the fifth minute which was ably dispatched by fly-half Brad Watson.
The Red and Greens responded in quick fashion with a penalty of their own from fly-half Jake Goodison to level the scores before a further penalty was drilled into touch deep in Grimsby territory.
The well-drilled catch-and-drive routine was too much for Grimsby as the Rasen marched inexorably over the line with prop David Haig making the touchdown. Goodison’s conversion put daylight between the teams.
But Grimsby continued to battle hard and made life difficult for the visitors until Hawkey was sinbinned in the 32nd minute.
Rasen then set up camp in Grimsby’s 22 for the rest of the half, but still could only muster a single score from their relentless pressure.
The catch and drive was the catalyst with Rasen driving Grimsby back towards their own line. When the initial thrust was halted the ball was taken down a narrow blindside for hooker Jack Seward to squeeze in at the corner for his maiden try in first team colours as Rasen took a 15–3 lead into half-time.
Rasen continued their territorial supremacy after the interval, keeping Grimsby virtual prisoners in their own half but without converting the pressure into points due to a lack of precision and the sheer doggedness of the Grimsby defence.
Having used the sledgehammer approach through the forwards to no avail, Rasen changed tack at a scrum in the 17th minute. Moving the ball away from the forwards, winger Nick Harvey scored out wide with Goodison adding a superb conversion.
Rasen were soon back on the attack in a more free flowing manner. Backs and forwards combined with some slick handling before flanker Leigh Dearden turned out of a tackle with a pirouette to present Will Crowe for a simple run in and a rare try.
Goodison added the conversion and with two quick scores it looked like the floodgates might finally open.
But Grimsby struck next when the ball broke loose from a Rasen attack to Lewis Newsum. The winger tore upfield deep into Rasen territory before his progress was halted.
Quick ball was recycled for Watson whose towering crossfield kick landed in acres of space where Lewis Dyson reacted quickest to gather the viciously bouncing ball and reach the line.
Goodison’s sublime chip and chase opened up the home defence, linking with Harvey before delivering another delicate kick, but the bounce eluded the oncoming Paul Gutteridge, denying him a certain try.
The game was capped with a fairytale ending for full-back John Norman who had spent his formative years at Grimsby before joining Rasen.
The ball was worked wide as Norman joined the line with work still to do, but his fancy footwork was too much for the remaining defenders as he reached the corner.
Goodison capped a fine kicking display with an excellent touchline conversion to complete a 36-8 win.
Rasen: C. Starling, Seward (Cole), Haig, Mills, Inman (Crowe), L. Dearden, Pryer, Chamberlin, M. Starling, Goodison, Gutteridge, A. Dearden, Stephens (Grint), Harvey, Norman.
* Rasen resume their league programme on Saturday with a trip to Ilkeston.