Market Rasen and Louth RFC secured a bonus point win over Dronfield despite a laboured performance at times against the league’s second-bottom side.
The Red and Greens made a dream start when debutant Cameron Wallace’s lively run from full-back set up a first-minute try for centre Adam Goodwin.
Fly-half Dan Robinson added the simple conversion, but Rasen couldn’t push on and it was Dronfield who began to monopolise possession.
However, Rasen weathered the mini storm to secure turnover ball and win a penalty which was ably dispatched by Robinson to extend Rasen’s lead.
The hosts appeared to be gaining the upper hand, but they were unable to capitalise as their passing lacked the precision required to open up Dronfield’s defence.
Rasen continued to put the Dronfield scrum under pressure and following a dominant set piece, the visitors’ number eight, Andy Chambers, was shown a yellow card.
Rasen took advantage, remaining patient as they went through the phases until Dronfield ran out of defenders and number eight Ben Chamberlin powered over the line.
Robinson slotted the conversion as Rasen looked comfortable without dominating.
Chamberlin turned from hero to villain six minutes later when he received a yellow card for offside following a charged down kick from Chris Everton.
Despite his loss, the remaining seven forwards coped admirably with Dronfield’s set scrum and even pushed them back.
The sides were evened up when the referee issued a yellow card for Dronfield prop Robert Chadwick seconds before half-time, with Rasen holding a 17–0 lead.
Rasen continued in the same vein after the interval and soon had Dronfield back-pedalling to concede a five-metre scrum.
The home side won the ball with ease and Robinson changed tactics with a perfectly-placed grubber kick behind the on-rushing defence.
Tom Stephens surged up the wing to expertly gather the ball and dive over the line to extend the lead after only six minutes.
The scene was set for Rasen to kick on, but Dronfield continued to frustrate the Red and Greens as the teams engaged in an arm wrestle.
After good approach play, Dronfield fly-half Joe Duffy made a lovely run, opening up the defence and after a poor pass, winger Jerome Gabbitus gathered the loose ball to open the visitors’ account.
This seemed to have an effect on the hosts as Dronfield looked to get something out of the game.
For a long period, Dronfield remained camped in the Rasen 22, forcing the hosts to defend, but in truth the visitors never looked like piercing the rock-solid home defence.
Eventually Rasen turned over the ball and launched an exciting counter-attack from their own 22 until the ball was spilled on halfway.
With the siege lifted, the Red and Greens came back into the game, but lack of precision ended several promising attacks.
With 10 minutes left, building pressure earned the hosts a penalty which was dispatched into touch in Dronfield’s 22.
The lineout was won, but the expected drive didn’t ensue as the ball was flung down the backline. Goodwin’s strong running breached the defence, cutting back against the grain before finding Dave Starling who crashed over the line.
The game petered out in the last 10 minutes as neither side came close to scoring.
There were periods where Rasen’s approach was laboured and a lack of precision saw balls spilled from over-elaborate long passes.
In the end, the hosts got the job done and there was much promise in some of the play, but unfortunately they got sucked into a narrow forward battle for portions of the game when it was clear Dronfield had no answer to an expansive wide game.
The victory lifted Rasen and Louth to a season-high position of seventh ahead of Saturday’s testing trip to fifth-placed Huntingdon for a 2.15pm kick-off.
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Haig, Mills, Inman, Pryer, Starling, Chamberlin (Grant), C. Everton, Robinson, Stephens, A. Dearden, Goodwin, Holvey, Wallace.