Market Rasen and Louth RFC made it two wins from two in Midlands Two at newly-promoted Long Eaton on Saturday.
Long Eaton were justifiably proud of their home record last season, but the Red and Greens’ higher league experience showed that fortress West Park was not impregnable.
Rasen made a lightning start, receiving the ball from kick-off as Chris Everton spied a gap in the upcoming defence and darted through the hole. He linked with centre Josh White who drew the final defender to give winger Will Pridgeon a clear run to the line after only 32 seconds.
Rasen maintained their high tempo and were soon awarded a penalty, which they drilled into touch, but Long Eaton turned over possession to avert the immediate danger.
But the visitors were soon back in a similar position and made no mistake with a perfectly-executed catch and drive routine as flanker George Grant peeled off the driving maul to crash over the whitewash.
After the initial setbacks, Long Eaton enjoyed long periods of possession, but like Lincoln the previous week they couldn’t get any change out of Rasen’s staunch defence.
Despite conceding a series of penalties, the Red and Greens kept their line intact as Long Eaton tried to batter their way through with their forwards and then utilise their backs, but both tactics were to no avail.
With the final penalty of the half, Long Eaton opted to kick for goal, but Seb Gundry’s attempt was wide of the mark to leave Rasen 10–0 up at half-time.
The second half began as the first had ended with the hosts in possession and trying to put more pace into their game.
Rasen remained resolute and after nine minutes Adam Goodwin made a strong counter-attack from full-back before the forwards took over through the phases to win a penalty.
Tom Alldridge slotted the kick to edge Rasen further ahead.
Long Eaton continued to battle away, but another turnover allowed Goodwin to launch a long clearance kick, followed up by Spen Holvey.
The young winger engulfed the catcher and won a penalty for not releasing, allowing Alldridge to bag another three points as Rasen gave their opponents a lesson in taking opportunities when they arise.
Two minutes later a poor pass from Chris Everton failed to meet its target, but the influential Goodwin scooped up the ball to instigate another counter-attack.
Linking with White, the centre then used his perfect timing again to send Holvey away for the third try, leaving Alldridge with a simple conversion.
As the game entered the final quarter Rasen dropped their guard and were caught napping when Ben Taylor scored from a quick tap-penalty.
Long Eaton again breached the Red and Green ranks, but prop Matt Ashton epitomised the new belief running through the side by chasing back to make a crucial tackle.
Rasen were looking for a fourth try and a bonus point, but turned over possession from a promising lineout position and substitute prop Dre Clifton-Forbes eventually scored on the counter-attack.
Gundry added the conversion, and with nine minutes left, Long Eaton still believed they could get something from the game.
The hosts continued to throw everything at Rasen, but with the final attack, Peter Everton robbed the ball in midfield and found Grant in space.
The flanker took play upfield before offloading to Goodwin who burst past the last flailing arm to run in from just inside Long Eaton’s half for the bonus point try under the posts, allowing Alldridge to slot the final conversion.
Another polished performance where the strong defence was outstanding for much of the game, while tries in the opening and closing minutes showed Rasen are now an 80-minute team, with strong runners and good decision-making.
There is a break in league action this weekend, but Rasen take on Scunthorpe Second XV in the Lincolnshire Cup at Willingham Road (k-o 3pm).
Rasen: Ashton, Alldridge, Southwell, Chamberlin, Crowe (Roberts), J. Norton, Grant (Janney), Pryer, Noquet, C. Everton, Pridgeon (T. Stephens), P. Everton, White, Holvey, Goodwin.