Spalding 1st XV 13
Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 35
AS the Indian summer continued, the red and greens travelled to Spalding and made hay in the first quarter racing into a 17–3 lead.
An early run from left winger Peter Everton took Rasen close to the Spalding line with the forwards arriving to quickly recycle the ball.
Play was then switched to the opposite side of the pitch where right winger Chris Green was eagerly waiting to scamper in at the corner to open the scoring in the seventh minute.
Rasen kept up the pressure and were awarded a penalty three minutes later when Spalding lock Mark Haighton earned himself a yellow card for playing a man without the ball.
The penalty was safely despatched to touch and the pack prepared to unleash another deadly catch and drive. The routine worked perfectly with number eight Ben Chamberlin driven over the line to increase the lead and fly half Meehal Grint extending it with his successful conversion.
The visitors then temporarily lost their focus as indiscipline set in and Spalding, egged on by their vociferous partisan supporters, moved to within kicking distance of the Rasen posts with a series of quick tap penalties.
Flyhalf Dave Hankinson took his chance and slotted the penalty kick to open his side’s account. However the red and greens made a swift riposte as the Rasen eight destroyed a Spalding scrum and earned a turnover put in. The ball was taken blind and Karl Ward ghosted up from fullback to cross the whitewash.
With a two score cushion Rasen then switched off again as Spalding upped their game and went on the offensive. A drive to the line was halted illegally and Grint trudged off the field for a ten minute break as Hankinson landed his second penalty.
Moments later Rasen hands in a ruck gave Hankinson another penalty chance, but his sure foot deserted him and the kick sailed wide.
Rasen’s problems mounted following a handling mix up in the reshuffled backline that was the prelude to skipper Dave Starling receiving a yellow card to leave his side with only 13 players on the pitch. To the crowd’s disbelief Hankinson fluffed another kick, but Spalding continued to lay siege to the Rasen line until the close of the half.
Spalding began the second half strongly as centre Ryan Chappell made a powerful run almost unopposed to put his side deep into Rasen territory.
Further Rasen indiscipline resulted in penalties as Spalding cranked up the pressure and finally created an overlap for winger Harry Harrison to score wide out. Hankinson then banished his kicking demons with a superbly struck conversion to reduce the deficit to only four points.
Rasen came back as Green was narrowly beaten to a touchdown chasing Grint’s well placed kick, but Spalding’s respite was short lived.
Hankinson incurred the referee’s wrath and received a yellow card giving Grint a simple penalty to extend the lead. The red and greens were unable to capitalise on their numerical superiority as a lack of discipline and precision at key moments brought promising passages of play to a grinding halt.
Going off the feet and pulling down a maul gifted Spalding with relieving penalties as the forwards drove to the line on two occasions, whilst a poor pass in midfield scuppered another promising attack.
It was a further 19 minutes on from the previous kick before Grint landed another penalty to widen the gap and potentially snatch a losing bonus point from the grasp of the home side.
The power of the Rasen forwards was taking its toll on their counterparts as lock Will Thornes pounced on a loose ball and powered his way to the line to put the result beyond doubt with four minutes remaining. Grint added the conversion to put the icing on the cake, but Rasen weren’t done yet.
In the dying seconds, a Spalding lineout was overthrown and Dave Starling hacked it on before showing some classy soccer skills to control the ball before diving on it and silencing the previously ebullient home fans.
The turning point of the game came when Rasen were down to 13 men, where a combination of dogged defence from Rasen and tactical naivety from Spalding with the added bonus of a kicking malfunction kept the damage to a minimum.
If Spalding had landed their kicks and made better use of their two man advantage it may have been a different story. There are better sides in the league who will inflict harsher punishments if they are afforded the luxury of playing against 13 men.
Next week Peterborough, fresh from a win over Newark and sitting one place below Rasen in the league, are the visitors to Willingham Road for a 3pm kick off.
Rasen: Starling C, Ashton, Cole, Mills, Thornes, Dearden L, Starling D, Chamberlin, Starling M, Grint, Everton P, Bemrose, Edell, Green, Ward
Subs: (used) Bullivant (not used) Crowe, Routledge
Spalding: Ioannou, Lake, Shakespeare, Haighton, Duerden E, Williams, Scotney, Brown, Winch, Hankinson, Childs, Chappell, Lithgow, Harrison, Williamson
Subs: Adams, Coates, Duerden T