Market Rasen and Louth RFC give league leaders a stern test

Rasen and Louth drive forward durign a promising first half EMN-170116-102139002
Rasen and Louth drive forward durign a promising first half EMN-170116-102139002

Rasen acquitted themselves well at the league leaders who were flattered by the margin of Saturday’s 32-12 victory.

The Red and Greens were determined to improve on their previous weeks performance and worked hard, as the set piece stood up well against a large pack, and there were glimpses of real attacking force from a reshuffled backline.

Paul Gutteridge flies into a challenge EMN-170116-102206002

Paul Gutteridge flies into a challenge EMN-170116-102206002

The early stages were even with Newbold full-back Dan O’Brien missing a penalty in the seventh minute and Paul Gutteridge’s interception in midfield causing panic in the home defence.

Rasen had the first meaningful foray into the opposition’s 22 with a lineout catch and drive following a potentially kickable penalty. But an unfortunate knock on brought an early halt to the attack.

The respite was short for the Newbold defence as a failed clearance kick was gathered by Spen Holvey. The rookie winger took play infield before switching with flanker Jake Pryer who scythed through the home defence and passed to fly-half Dan Robinson who had just enough reach to dot down over the whitewash.

Robinson then slotted the conversion from wide out.

Jake Pryer makes a tackle against title-challenging Newbold EMN-170116-102153002

Jake Pryer makes a tackle against title-challenging Newbold EMN-170116-102153002

The score stoked Newbold who hit back with a vengeance, using their large forwards as a battering ram.

Rasen appeared to be weathering the storm with some resolute defence until lock Nick Walton popped the ball up to Declan George who squeezed in at the corner.

The visitors continued to stand toe-to-toe with their high-flying opponents, but let themselves down with a knock-on at a defensive lineout which handed back the initiative.

As play rolled on, Rasen conceded a penalty and from the ensuing lineout the Newbold forwards rumbled towards the line with prop Ben Dawes touching down to give Newbold a slender 10–7 half-time lead after an even half.

Newbold’s coach clearly had some harsh words at the interval as his charges upped the tempo from the restart.

Rasen were soon desperately defending in their own 22, and within five minutes Newbold had increased their lead when another powerful lineout catch and drive was finished by lock Walton.

Newbold came back and continued to pummel the Red and Green defence through their forwards.

Rasen just managed to repel an attack, holding Newbold up over the line to concede a five-metre scrum. But despite some heroic defending Walton forced his way over to grab his second try.

This initial surge had taken Rasen aback, but they responded well, and the game returned to a similar shape to the first half.

An attack instigated by Will Inman’s surge hit through the heart of Newbold’s defence before Mike Starling, on for the injured Everton, cleverly placed a grubber kick between two oncoming defenders for winger Nick Harvey to touch down.

Rasen were unlucky to concede a penalty inside Newbold’s half and Phil Reed to take a quick tap way in front of the mark. The canny centre headed upfield before his kick ahead was gathered by winger James McGill who had too much pace for the trailing defenders.

Rasen’s spirit remained good, but a failed kick to touch allowed Newbold to counter-attack, swiftly moving the ball across the field where centre Lloyd Warner chipped over the defence and showed pace to win the race for the try.

Rasen battled to the end, but couldn’t find a way through.

Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Haig (Southwell), Mills, Inman, Grant (Pilkington), Pryer, Chamberlin, C. Everton (M. Starling), Robinson, Holvey, Goodwin, Gutteridge, Harvey, Stephens.

* On Saturday, Rasen return to Willingham Road to face Northampton Old Scouts who sit just four points higher in the Midlands One East table. Kick-off is 2.15pm.