Market Rasen and Louth RFC Under 16s booked their place in the Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire semi-finals after earning a narrow victory in their final group game on Saturday.
Rasen shaded Ashbourne by a single point to end the group stages with a 100 per cent record and will now wait to discover their opponents ho they will play on a two-legged semi-final.
Going in to Saturday’s game, Rasen had registered three wins from as many games with maximum points and following very impressive performances against Mellish, Sleaford and Dronfield.
A strong wind was to play its part in the game, but the sunshine and good ground conditions made it a perfect day for rugby.
Rasen had the wind and the kick-off for the first half and after a few errors from both teams in the first 10 minutes it was Rasen who struck first.
A well-judged chip kick was chased down by the inside centre Ben P who beat the covering defence to touch down the loose ball.
The extra two points were missed as the wind made kicking difficult from any sort of distance.
Rasen continued to press and played some outstanding phases of play as forwards took the ball on and gained the metres up the middle of the pitch to release the backs to attack the broken defensive line.
And from a turnover, deep in Ashbourne’s half the ball was moved out to the wing where number eight Luke Philips took the final pass to drive and stretch over the line for the second try.
The conversion again fell prey to the windy conditions.
A penalty kick to the left of the posts just before half-time gave Rasen the chance to extend their lead, but the kick slid inches wide and the hosts held a slender 10-0 lead at half-time.
Rasen expected a testing second half, played into the wind and against opponents who like to kick with devastating accuracy and chase with pace.
The team talk was all about securing possession and keeping the ball in the forwards whenever possible.
One of the side’s strongest points this season has been their defence with only 20 points conceded 20 points in three games.
This was to be tested to the maximum as two packs of forwards played their hearts out with intense rucking, tackling and hard running made.
Rasen struck first after several phases of play, attacking the channels and supporting the ball carrier for blind side flanker James E to finish off with a powerful run from eight metres and a 15-0 lead with more than 20 minutes still to play.
Ashbourne finally broke through and scored after powerful running and support play from the backs crossed the whitewash under the posts. The extras were added to make it 15-7.
Rasen’s defence was soon tested again as the centre Ben P was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle.
The 14 men stuck to the task and for this period managed the game with intelligent decision-making to wind the clock down until the team were back to full strength.
With less than a minute left Ashbourne scored under the posts and took the quick drop goal conversion. The visitors hoped to have enough time to restart again, but this was to be the last play and Rasen had edged a brilliant game 15-14.