Market Rasen and Louth RFC reached the halfway point of the Midlands One east league programme without a win after a heavy defeat at Old Northampton Scouts on Saturday.
Rasen have gone close to a win on three occasions, and although their latest league outing wasn’t that close, the 32-5 scoreline did flatter Old Scouts, and the game wasn’t helped by some eccentric officiating.
The Red and Greens must continue to battle on in the second half of the season and strive for a level of consistency to match the glimpses of good rugby they have played in some games.
On a bitterly cold Northampton afternoon, the home side made the early running as Rasen conceded a succession of penalties, although the reasoning behind some was difficult to fathom.
With Rasen in self-destruct mode, it was no surprise when Old Scouts took the lead after nine minutes through an Adam Frost penalty.
After a faltering start, Rasen began to settle down and started to put their game together, but they were caught out when the hosts exploited the narrow defence to create an overlap, after a set scrum, for Liam Hancock to score out wide.
The home side were firmly on the front foot and built pressure through several phases before fly-half Thomas Holliday spotted a chink in the Rasen defence to dart through and dot down close to the posts.
Frost added the conversion and Rasen faced an all-too-familiar uphill battle.
Three minutes later Rasen rallied to drive deep into Northampton territory where fly-half Chris Everton cleverly held the Old Scouts defence before putting Tom Stephens in the clear with a perfectly-executed long pass.
The winger made no mistake and steamed in at the corner to open Rasen’s account.
Moments later Rasen attacked again, but this was halted by another bizarre decision when the ball went loose and Chris Everton hacked it on.
He then looked on in incredulity when the referee blew for a penalty for kicking the ball out of Old Scouts hands.
The hosts took full advantage to drill the ball into touch, deep in Rasen’s 22, and quick ball from the lineout again exposed Rasen’s narrow defence for Alex McKie to glide in at the corner, giving Old Scouts a 20–5 half-time lead.
The second half was largely forgettable. Old Scouts tails were up and they were soon back on the attack.
A quick tap penalty in their own half was taken on by Luke Reeves who charged deep into Rasen territory through some very ineffectual tackling.
The home side laid siege to the line, but the Red and Greens held firm and cleared the danger when they received a rare penalty.
Having held out, it was Rasen’s turn to mount their own barrage in Northampton’s 22.
The pressure was building and Old Scouts conceded penalty after penalty, until an incident close to the line changed that.
Jack Noquet was pulled out of a maul and allegedly slapped, but when the young scrum-half politely asked the referee if he had seen the incident, the official showed Noquet a yellow card.
For the visitors it was another baffling decision considering the number of penalties Old Scouts had conceded in the red zone with impunity and no hint of a yellow card.
Old Scouts made their man advantage count, stretching a beleaguered defence for Hancock to score another try and secure a valuable bonus point.
Within two minutes of the restart, the referee found fault with Chris Starling’s tackle completion and issued another yellow card to the Rasen prop.
In the gathering gloom, another scything cross-field run from Chris Everton came to nought as Will Pridgeon failed to heed a bellowed instruction to angle his run for a switch and he was shepherded into touch as he received the ball.
The final score was a comedy of errors, although no-one from Rasen was laughing on the touchline.
The ball was kicked through by Old Scouts where Rasen fumbled, allowing the chasing hosts to drop on the ball as it crossed the line.
Frost slotted the conversion to cap a dismal afternoon.
On Saturday, Rasen return to Willingham Road to take on Oundle with a 2.15pm kick-off in their final fixture of 2017.
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Ashton, Mills (J. Norton), Crowe, F. Norton, Chamberlin, Scupham, Noquet, C. Everton, Stephens, Pryer, P. Everton (M. Starling), Pridgeon, Goodwin (Cooper).