Market Rasen and Louth RFC punished for turnovers against title-chasing Bedford

Rasen's scrum functioned well against Bedford EMN-180129-095243002
Rasen's scrum functioned well against Bedford EMN-180129-095243002

There was some trepidation in the Market Rasen and Louth RFC ranks for the visit of Bedford Athletic who had inflicted a club record 104-0 league defeat in the away fixture.

But this Rasen side is now developing some character and gave their best against a superior side who are chasing the Midlands One East title.

Mike Starling looks to get the Rasen backs moving against Bedford EMN-180129-095519002

Mike Starling looks to get the Rasen backs moving against Bedford EMN-180129-095519002

The hosts started brightly with centre Josh Lawton punching a hole through Bedford’s defence to earn a second-minute penalty.

Hooker Tom Alldridge strode up to give Rasen an unlikely lead.

But it proved short-lived when centre Harry Sawford-Smith opened Bedford’s account with a try after lock Tom Rees had burst through the middle.

The visitors slowly claimed the upper hand, but it was a further 12 minutes before they struck again when scrum-half Tom Orton finished off a move built on impressive continuity.

Chris Mills and Chris Starling look to stop Bedford's momentum EMN-180129-095637002

Chris Mills and Chris Starling look to stop Bedford's momentum EMN-180129-095637002

This launched a scoring spree as Bedford added four more tries in 12 minutes.

As Rasen were building an attack, the ball was turned over and the strong running of Sawford-Smith did the rest, breaking free from a tackle to score under the posts.

Slick handling in difficult conditions then outflanked Rasen’s defence to give Joshua Cassell a clear run to the line and under the posts, and Stephen Woodhead emulated his fellow winger when sent away for a clear run to the line by Orton who took the ball blind from a set scrum.

Bedford were too quick for Rasen when good handling and support play ended with flanker James Wallace adding his name to the scoresheet.

After a shaky start, fly-half James Mortimer, who had been imperious on his home turf, found his kicking range to convert all of these tries to give Bedford a healthy 38-3 half-time lead.

Rasen’s best attack came from a break out when Chris Starling’s quick sleight of hand put fellow prop Matt Ashton through a gap.

Ashton galloped upfield and showed some finesse with a cheeky dummy, but like several other home attacks, the move broke down, yet the Red and Greens were playing with spirit despite the mounting scoreline.

Rasen made a promising start to the second half as they built pressure by working through the phases.

But the curse of the turnover reappeared, with Bedford mercilessly punishing the error, turning defence into attack for Woodhead to add to his tally.

Bedford repeated the punishment eight minutes later when another Rasen attack was turned over, good handling and support this time putting Wallace in the clear.

The flanker unselfishly popped the ball back inside for Woodhead to complete his hat-trick.

From the restart Bedford showed their full capabilities as they ran the ball back with pace and precision which shredded Rasen’s defence for Cassell to score in the corner.

Rasen continued to battle away and enjoyed brief moments of hope, only for them to be snuffed out by Bedford’s effective defence.

And when possession was lost once more, another Bedford counter-attack ended with Cassell crossing the whitewash for his own hat-trick.

Mortimer converted two of the second-half tries, giving Bedford a 62-3 lead early in the final quarter.

With the game long sown up, Bedford may have taken their foot off the gas, but Rasen were still trying their hardest to wring further consolation out of the match.

This arrived in the 32nd minute when a sloppy midfield pass was poached by the lurking Lawton, and the Rasen centre ran for the line to flop over under the posts with Bedford opting out of any pursuit.

The absence of a kicking tee meant Alldridge’s attempted drop-kick conversion slipped under the bar to leave Rasen short of double figures, but when the final whistle sounded it was the performance which mattered more to Rasen than the losing margin.

Bedford were clearly the better side, but the scoreline did not reflect the full story of the game.

Rasen were outclassed and the major difference between the sides was Bedford’s ability to punish turnover ball, but the hosts played with a determination and enthusiasm which must be difficult as the defeats keep racking up.

The set scrum went well again and there were glimpses of promise from the backline, but defence is still a major flaw.

On Saturday, Rasen travel to Bugbrooke who dropped into the relegation zone last weekend and will be looking to grab the points.

Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Ashton, Benson, Crowe (Scupham), J. Norton, Chamberlin, Mills, Fenwick, C. Everton, M. Starling, Lawton, Pridgeon, W. Stephens (Janney), Cooper.