Market Rasen and Louth RFC missed an opportunity as Scunthorpe fielded their second team to start their defence of the Lincolnshire Cup.
But the much-changed Red and Greens fluffed their lines and failed to front up against an aggressive Scunthorpe side that is a considerable distance behind the quality of their table-topping first team.
The experimental Rasen side took time to find their feet and suffered an early blow when fly-half Chris Everton was forced out with injury.
Scunthorpe’s forwards began strongly, and were ahead after seven minutes.
Driving Rasen backwards they then spread the ball wide for full-back Jess Matthews to join the line and cross. Jake Goodison converted the score.
After two weeks of almost faultless defending, Rasen’s standards dropped as tackles were missed and the Scunthorpe forwards won the breakdowns.
A strong run from giant prop Clark Murray punched holes in Rasen’s defence before Goodison’s long pass found winger Oliver Fielding for a clear run to the corner to extend the lead.
A clothes-line tackle from Matthew Mason looked to have gone unpunished, but the referee allowed play to carry on before finally dismissing the Scunthorpe hooker to the touchline for a 10-minute break.
The extra man gave Rasen added impetus, but they couldn’t capitalise and Scunthorpe extended their lead when Billy Hardy latched on to Harrison’s clever kick to add a third try.
The hosts eventually found some belief when Josh White, now operating at fly-half, carved open the defence.
The move ended with a forward pass, but from the ensuing scrappy scrum, centre Adam Goodwin forced his way over the line to cut the half-time deficit to 17-5.
Rasen had given the opposition too much respect following the thrashing they had endured to Scunthorpe’s first string in last year’s final.
But Saturday’s opponents were beatable, and Rasen began the second half with renewed vigour to win a penalty which was drilled into touch close to the Scunthorpe line.
The catch and drive was executed to perfection and Will Inman powered his way over to reduce the deficit.
But just as Rasen were beginning to take a hold of the second half, George Grant’s rash late tackle on Goodison was correctly punished with a yellow card, and the retaliatory punch went unseen and the Scunthorpe man remained unpunished.
The loss of a man in the home pack began to tell and they conceded a series of penalties as they were pushed back.
Scunthorpe naturally opted for a scrum at the next penalty and drove Rasen back before peeling off and adding a further drive for Murray to force his way over from short range.
Most of the final quarter was left when Rasen returned to full strength and once again they went on the offensive.
After some neat handling Rasen went close when Goodwin’s kick agonisingly crossed the touchline in goal before Will Pridgeon could reach it.
Scunthorpe were clinging on to their lead as Rasen made ground working the phases, and the hard work was finally rewarded when Pryer crashed over from close in and Tom Alldridge added the conversion.
Trailing by five points. Rasen couldn’t find a way through in the final eight minutes, and to add insult to injury, Goodison slotted a last-gasp long-range penalty to put the game out of reach at 25-17.
Rasen return to league action on Saturday when Loughborough visit for a 3pm kick-off.
Rasen: Howard, Alldridge, Southwell, Roberts (Inman), Grant, J. Norton (Pryer), Smythe, McKay, Nicholls, C. Everton (Pridgeon), Holvey, White, Goodwin, Stirling, T. Stephens.
* The second team had an exciting encounter against Paviors and held on to win 38-30 after a pulsating game where Rasen had built up a substantial lead before being pegged back.