A slow start cost a much-changed Market Rasen and Louth RFC dearly as they fell to a 47-12 home defeat to Peterborough.
A spate of injuries forced Rasen into several changes once more and brought the number of players used for first team duty this season up to 37.
With the lack of familiarity within the side, the Red and Greens took time to settle and Peterborough took full advantage with a scoring blitz in the first half, but the second was a totally different story.
Peterborough began confidently and within five minutes had a man advantage when Rasen’s Josh Lawton was sinbinned for a high tackle.
The visitors looked to turn the screw and from a lineout peel following a penalty, prop Stuart Day drove over for the opening score.
A botched restart which did not travel 10 metres, a failing which would recur at the next two restarts, gave the initiative back to Peterborough who worked their way back upfield before an inside pop pass opened up the defence for flanker Luke Smedley to canter in under the posts.
Full-back Byron van Uden landed the conversion and added another two minutes later after Michael Bean shredded the home defence to put his centre partner Tom Williams in beneath the uprights.
After three scores in Lawton’s absence, Peterborough remained firmly on the front foot and when a chip over was gathered, Bean ran in to secure the try bonus point within 21 minutes.
Rasen were caught napping when Peterborough took a quick lineout to maintain their high tempo and Bean’s strong running, aided by some lacklustre tackling, ended with the centre grabbing his second try.
Rasen finally found some of the spirit which had been in abundance at Paviors, and made Peterborough work harder for their rewards until the hosts became mesmerized by Joseph Andresen’s crossfield run, with barely a hand laid on him to ghost in at the corner.
The touchline conversion was nailed as Peterborough took a commanding 40-0 lead into the interval.
Eyeing the comfortable scoreline Peterborough’s Southern Hemisphere player-coach, Nico Steenkamp, brought himself off the bench to join the fun in the second half, but it wasn’t as easy as he had clearly anticipated.
Bean once more tormented the home defence, and after the supporting Robert Linnell was hauled down just short of the line, the forwards recycled and drove over the line after just five minutes, converted by van Uden.
But a combination of errors and some stoic defending from the Red and Greens ensured that Peterborough did not add to their 47 points.
With Rasen’s set piece working well, the forwards then ramped up their game as they drove upfield on a rare incursion into Peterborough’s 22.
The visitors could only halt Rasen’s progress through foul measures, earning Smedley a yellow card.
A lineout catch and drive from the resulting penalty took play infield, but Chris Everton spotted an opportunity on the blindside and called for scrum-half Jack Noquet to switch play. The ball was delivered into Everton’s hands for him to skirt around the defence and dot down in the corner.
This had clearly rattled Peterborough as Williams joined his team-mate on the touchline five minutes later to temporarily reduce his side to 13.
A fired-up Rasen took full advantage of another penalty as their lineout catch and drive routine worked like clockwork, with number eight Dave Starling peeling off and powering over the whitewash.
Hooker Tom Alldridge added the conversion as Rasen salvaged some pride, and with parity restored in terms of manpower, the final quarter ended in stalemate.
Debutant Will Stephens had played little rugby at any level this season, but acquitted himself well throughout, while centre Harry Wallis gamely filled in on the flank.
Despite the changes the set piece held firm where the forwards performed with credit, and the backs showed glimpses of their attacking prowess, if only they could have clung onto the ball when gaps were created.
Winning the second half was a testimony to the application and spirit of the players, but the first-half deficit was too big to claw back.
It doesn’t get any easier this weekend as Rasen travel to league leaders Syston on Saturday for a 2.15pm kick-off.
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Southwell, Crowe (Hill), Benson, J. Norton, Wallis, D. Starling, Noquet, C. Everton, W. Stephens, Lawton, Goodwin, Pridgeon, T. Stephens. Sub (unused): Mills.