Market Rasen and Louth RFC confirmed their place in Midlands One East for next season with a clinical and ruthless rout of bottom side Ilkeston on Saturday.
The Red and Greens were full of confidence after their dazzling display against Leighton Buzzard, while Ilkeston, after a wretched season, arrived with no substitutes and a side packed with Colts, and the game soon developed into one of men against boys.
Rasen laid down a marker after only two minutes when skipper Chris Starling, operating at blindside flanker, peeled off from a lineout to pop the ball to scrum-half Chris Everton for the opening score, converted by Dan Robinson.
Pete Southwell’s powerful run then opened up the defence before play was switched to the opposite side of the field for number eight Ben Chamberlin to cross in the corner.
Seven minutes later Spencer Holvey was put into space on the wing and when his run was halted close to the line, Chamberlin was on hand to wrestle the ball free and force his way over.
Ilkeston were struggling to stem the tide as Rasen maintained their monopoly on possession.
Robinson’s long cut out pass put Josh White away for the centre to secure the try bonus point in only the 22nd minute.
The Rasen forwards and backs combined seamlessly and Will Inman’s strong run paved the way for the next score.
As Ilkeston funnelled back to halt his progress, the lock linked with Adam Goodwin who in turn put Holvey away for a clear run in for a classic winger’s finish.
Robinson’s delicate chip found space behind the Ilkeston defence, and winger Tom Stephens latched onto it with an efficient pick up to put Goodwin in for another Rasen score.
With time and space Robinson rounded off a solid first half with a clean break to score under the posts and leave himself with an easy conversion to give Rasen an emphatic half-time 41–0 lead.
The second half began just as the first had ended with Rasen dominating, and within four minutes Goodwin effectively joined the line again from fullback to score after a long run for the line. Robinson added the conversion.
Ilkeston dug deep and forced Rasen into their first real period of defensive duty.
The visitors’ persistence paid off when hooker Kirk Woodison barrelled his way over for a try converted by Harry Walton.
Goodwin’s pace and magic feet knocked Ilkeston’s mini revival as he picked his way to the line for another score.
Five minutes later Chamberlin was given a 10-minute rest on the touchline with a yellow card, but it made little difference as the Red and Greens broke out for Stephens to get his name on the scoresheet with a try converted by Robinson.
Another temporary concentration lapse gave bedraggled Ilkeston a lift as they forced Rasen back and scored in similar fashion, with number eight Aidan Norris going over for Walton to convert.
Almost immediately, Robinson’s vision took play to the blindside where his perfectly executed chip bounced up into the arms of Stephens without the winger breaking stride as he flew to the line. Robinson converted.
But there was a hint of deja-vu as Ilkeston reacted positively to mount another attack on the Rasen line which ended with centre Tom Pottinger scoring, again converted by Walton, to give the visitors the unlikely chance of a try bonus point.
That fanciful dream was shattered as Rasen ended the game with a scoring frenzy of five tries in five minutes.
Superb handling by the backs, including a sublime single movement pass from substitute Paul Gutteridge, put Holvey away down the wing for his second score.
Silky running from Gutteridge opened his account as he glided clear of the defence, quickly followed by a neatly-taken drop kick conversion of his own try to save time.
Robinson’s chip and chase ended with the fly-half grabbing another try before an interception was quickly moved to Gutteridge whose fresh legs were too much for the floundering visitors.
Their agony was not spared as Rasen pressed deep into Ilkeston’s 22, and following a quick tap penalty, Southwell powered his way over for one final score.
This was a display the watching spies from Lincoln should fear if Rasen can overcome Scunthorpe in the county cup semi-final to set up a showdown with their local rivals in the final.
On Saturday, the Red and Greens round off their league season with a trip to Lutterworth for a 3pm kick-off.
Rasen: Southwell, Alldridge, Haig, Crowe (Roberts), Inman, C. Starling (Grey), Grant, Chamberlin, C. Everton, Robinson, Stephens, A. Dearden (Gutteridge), White, Holvey, Goodwin.