Unforced errors and poor discipline cost Market Rasen and Louth RFC dear as they failed to break their duck at Bugbrooke, writes The Tache.
The Red and Greens returned to Midlands One East action after a week’s rest following Stamford’s ceding of their Lincolnshire Cup tie.
It was a game Rasen could have won, but indiscipline and flaky defence allowed Bugbrooke back into the game and once in front, the home side proved a tough nut to crack.
On a heavy, rain-soaked pitch, Bugbrooke began with the advantage of the slope, and while Rasen had a stiff breeze at their backs, a slippery ball hampered both sides.
The Badgers began strongly in a first half which ebbed and flowed. After weathering Bugbrooke’s early incursions, Rasen settled into their usual pattern and worked the ball upfield through the forwards.
With the visitors on the edge of Bugbrooke’s 22, Chris Everton opened the scoring with a well-struck penalty.
Everton’s boot paved the way for the next score when the scrum-half sent a high box-kick deep into Bugbrooke’s 22. Home full-back Ben Atkin, looking into the sun, couldn’t field the ball and winger Adam Goodwin tapped the loose ball forward into his own arms to dot down under the posts. Everton slotted the conversion.
Despite the scoreline no side was dominating and after further Rasen pressure, Bugbrooke bravely run the ball out of defence and took the ball blind to release Adam Pepper.
The speedy winger outpaced the visiting defence on the outside to glide in under the posts, leaving a simple conversion for Adrian Flynn.
Almost immediately, hooker Scott Brown’s rampaging run took play deep into Badger territory. Flanker Leigh Dearden kept the momentum going, expertly retrieving a wayward pass from almost over his shoulder, and Dave Starling steamed up in support to power his way over and put Rasen 15–7 ahead at the interval.
Bugbrooke began the second half like an express train, driving through the heart of Rasen’s defence.
As play halted, flanker Jake Pryer was sin-binned and Flynn capitalised with a well-struck penalty to bring the Badgers back to within a score. More indiscipline reduced Rasen’s ranks further three minutes later as Dearden received a yellow card for clumsy use of the boot.
Bugbrooke pressed, but were met with stout defence until sheer weight of numbers and relentless driving created space for Tom Davies to cut an angle and cross the line close to the posts.
Flynn added the conversion and then pushed Bugbrooke further in front with another penalty when Rasen were caught offside.
With the sides restored to parity, the Red and Greens came back into the game, but the cushion of the scoreline had added to Bugbrooke’s resolve as they absorbed everything Rasen threw at them.
With 11 minutes left, Bugbrooke attacked from a scrum just inside Rasen’s half, but with the move seemingly dying, Jonjo Flannin’s speculative overhead pass miraculously found its target and lock Robert Pardon crashed over in the corner.
Pardon then turned hero to villain as he was yellow-carded, and Rasen relentlessly pummelled at the home defence. Bugbrooke held firm until the referee brandished yellow cards for Dave Starling and home flanker Ben Pattle after a minor disagreement.
Rasen continued to attack and eventually Bugbrooke conceded a penalty. Taking a pragmatic view, skipper Chris Starling invited Tom Alldridge to take the shot at goal to secure a losing bonus point and he made no mistake.
Rasen had two minutes left to snatch a dramatic draw, but one final fumble forward lost possession and Bugbrooke dispatched the ball into touch to secure a hard-fought win.
Rasen: C. Starling, Brown (Alldridge), Southwell, Mills, Thornes (Inman), L. Dearden, Pryer, Chamberlin, C. Everton, Wise (M. Starling), Batterbury, Beasley, Starling D, Goodwin, Pope.
* Rasen begin a run of home games on Saturday when league leaders Derby visit Willingham Road (kick-off 2.15pm).