The Red and Greens had hoped to build on their morale-boosting Lincolnshire Cup win, but Paviors ruthlessly exploited Rasen’s deficiencies.
The odds had been stacked against Rasen from the outset with only 17 players available for first team duties, some of whom had little or no Midlands One experience.
Those players stood up to the challenge and despite being outclassed by a better side, particularly in the backline, they didn’t take a backward step and gave their all.
It would have been easy for them to capitulate, but in a difficult season it was heartening to see the approach they adopted.
There was an inauspicious start to the New Year as Rasen took to the field sporting Paviors’ first choice jerseys as last week’s launderer had left the Rasen strip at home.
Within two minutes centre Doug Billam had cut through the Rasen midfield defence to put his brother George in under the posts and leave himself an easy conversion.
An early break by Chris Everton, filling in at fly-half, gave a glimpse of Rasen’s attacking potential, but Paviors’ swarming defence snuffed out the danger to quickly turn defence into attack.
Swift movement of the ball along the backline gave winger Robert Ratcliffe a clear run to the line, scoring in the corner.
Paviors maintained the pressure and after retrieving a Rasen 22 drop-out worked the narrow side for Matt Molyneux to join the line from fullback and glide in at the corner.
Despite the scoreline, Rasen were holding their own in the set scrum, but elsewhere, speed of reaction failed to knock Paviors out of their stride.
Jonty Green’s poor pass failed to find his fly-half, but George Billam still had time to recover the ball and surge through a huge hole to give his brother the scoring pass and secure the try bonus within the first quarter. George added the conversion.
The men in Red and Green, albeit a different shade, were down, but definitely not out as they worked hard through the forwards to gain a foothold in Paviors territory.
After several penalties, Rasen opted for a kick at goal and hooker Tom Alldridge got the visitors on the scoreboard.
However, the forwards’ exertions had taken their toll and driving play from the home forwards took them deep into Rasen’s half before Fijian import Terio Veilawa’s raw pace gave him a score in the corner and Paviors a healthy 29-3 half-time lead.
The second half was similar to the first, full of Rasen grit, but clinical finishing by Paviors.
Rasen reacted slowly to an error at a Paviors lineout, giving the hosts time to regain control and push the ball wide for Molyneux to score in the corner. George Billam added an excellent touchline conversion.
Another fine display of broken field running resulted in Veilawa grabbing his second try before the Rasen defence totally switched off.
Prop Steve Allen could hardly believe his luck as he lumbered over unopposed from 20 metres out to present George Billam with another simple conversion. Five minutes later Ratcliffe looked on course for his second score before a last-ditch tackle halted him short. But as he went down the ball was flung back to George Billam who took the pass behind his back to crash over under the posts for another regulation conversion.
Just as in the first half, a 20-minute blitz of scoring was followed by an evenly-contested 20 minutes.
With three scrum-halves already on the pitch, coach Rhuari Pike was left with a final conundrum when injury required a fourth, Will Fenwick, to join the fray.
Fenwick slotted in at nine, forcing Jack Noquet to disappear to full-back, while Chris Everton and Mike Starling remained at fly-half and wing, respectively.
Rasen battled gamely to the end, but Paviors mustered one final score when Chris Tipton’s reached out to touch down over the line after a determined run. Doug Billam took over the kicking duties to cap the scoring.
On Saturday, Rasen return to Willingham Road to face Peterborough for a 2.15pm kick-off.
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Ashton, Mills, Benson, Norton (Fenwick), Chamberlin, Scupham, Noquet, C. Everton, Pridgeon, F. Norton (M. Starling), Lawton, Cooper, Stephens.