Market Rasen and Louth RFC made a few big strides forward despite a heavy defeat to a very good Bedford Athletic side on Saturday.
After two indifferent performances there was a different demeanour in the Rasen side against the high flyers as they began with real purpose to claim the majority of possession and territory in the opening stages.
But, befitting their lofty league position, classy Bedford took their first opportunity with clinical efficiency, wheeling the scrum before expertly moving wide and creating an overlap for full-back Ben Johnson to open the scoring. James Mortimer added the conversion.
Despite this setback, the Red and Greens took the game back to their illustrious opponents and had the better of the exchanges, only to be undone by a lack of accuracy.
Bedford soaked up the pressure and then extended their lead with an almost carbon copy of their first score with Johnson and Mortimer playing the same roles.
The Red and Green resolve didn’t falter, but the score gave Bedford added impetus as they began to dictate the game.
Mortimer’s ambitious penalty attempt from Rasen’s 10-metre line fell short, but Bedford maintained the pressure and won a further penalty advantage. For the first time the Rasen defence stood off tackles and allowed Bedford to run with flanker Josh Pearson crossing the whitewash.
Mortimer made no mistake with the conversion and was soon adding another as Bedford dragged the chasing Rasen defenders from one side of the pitch to other for lock Tom Albone to gallop in for a try bonus point.
At 28–0 down Rasen’s prospects looked bleak, but the hosts had other ideas though and camped in the Bedford 22 for the rest of the half.
From a scrum close to the line, the Rasen eight forced a penalty which they opted to scrum again. A score looked inevitable as the Rasen pack moved forward with Ben Chamberlin controlling the ball, but by fair means or foul the ball somehow bobbled out and Bedford cleared.
A further penalty allowed new kicker Chris Everton to take the three points and make the score 28–3 down at half-time.
Clearly buoyed by their efforts before the break, Rasen began the second period positively to exert the early pressure.
A jinking dart from scrum-half Chris Everton caused panic in the Bedford ranks and he just managed to touch the ball against the base of the posts for a try before slotting the conversion to give Rasen a glimmer of hope.
The home side had clearly rattled their opponents so when a penalty opportunity arose, Bedford opted for the kick at goal and Mortimer obliged.
As with the first half, Rasen’s early onslaught waned and a quick tap penalty in the home 22 from Nick Boyer caught Rasen totally unawares.
The Red and Greens somehow scrambled back to haul him down short of the line, but Pearson was in close support to bag his second try. Mortimer applied his fifth successful conversion.
Rasen were under the cosh, but every player fought for the cause with two last-ditch tackles bringing Bedford down inches from the line.
Dave Starling’s interception thwarted one attack and caused Bedford to turn tail in pursuit of the centre. Winger Greg Wise joined the veteran to take play on, but the youngster’s ambitious pass failed to reach its target and the chance was gone.
Bedford’s relentless pressure finally told as substitute Charlie Darlow capped the try-scoring before Mortimer’s metronomic boot underlined the visitors superiority with a final conversion (45-10).
Despite facing a rising scoreline Rasen kept their focus and displayed a unity which was sadly lacking in recent games. It is to be hoped this improved mindset will be continued in future games, irrespective of the opposition’s league status.
Rasen: Haig, Brown, Cole, L. Dearden, Thornes, C. Starling, Pryer, Chamberlin, C. Everton, P. Everton, Wise, Beasley, D. Starling, Goodwin, Norman. Subs: Alldridge (Cole), Crowe (Haig), F. Norton (Norman).
There is another break from league action next week as Rasen entertain Stamford, currently top of Midlands 2 East (North), in the Lincolnshire Cup.
Visit www.rasenrugby.com for confirmation of kick-off time.