Market Rasen 1st XV 33
Coalville 1st XV 17
WITH both sides desperate to secure points to retain a place in Midlands 1 East, this was always going to be a tense affair where mental strength would play its part.
Coalville made the perfect start following a quick tap penalty that put their winger away to score in the corner in the first minute, but Rasen regrouped and four minutes later, fullback Meehal Grint was lining up an ambitious penalty from the halfway line.
The kick failed to find the target, but it put the red and greens deep into Coalville territory and the forward machine began to work their magic.
Succumbing to Rasen pressure, Coalville conceded a penalty and the wheels were put in motion for the deadly catch and drive.
Despite the cold, damp conditions, the forwards performed their party piece to perfection with flanker Dave Starling emerging as the try scorer before Grint added the tricky conversion to put Rasen in front.
Coalville responded by maintaining their quick tempo approach in the face of the more measured Rasen forward orientated tactic, and another quick tap penalty caught the home defence napping as the burly scrumhalf forced his way over the line to restore his side’s lead.
Thereafter Rasen took control of the remainder of the half as the forwards exerted their command by playing simple rugby, ideal for the conditions.
The set scrum was becoming very difficult for the visitors and Dave Starling added to his tally with a push over try, expertly converted by Grint.
The forwards continued to pummel at the Coalville ramparts and after some valiant defending a gap opened for Starling to sprint through to complete his hat trick.
Grint added the conversion to give Rasen a healthy 21-10 half-time advantage.
Despite the lead, Rasen were fully aware of their opponents’ capabilities and knew they couldn’t rest on their laurels, but an early long run from winger Nick Harvey following a quick tap penalty gave the red and greens the field position they desired.
Coalville were then subjected to another forward barrage with the home side opting for scrummages as the visitors conceded penalties in rapid succession.
Another strong scrum made Dave Starling odds on to register a second pushover try, but when the ball crossed the line his eyesight faltered and as he missed the ball, his brother Mike was gleefully on hand to make the touchdown.
Rasen continued to dominate for long periods and kept their opponents pinned in their own half as Coalville couldn’t escape the vice like grip of the Rasen eight, before centre Anthony Jones became an honorary forward as he was bundled over the line with the pack in full flow.
Grint slotted the conversion to give Rasen a seemingly unassailable 33–10 margin, but complacency entered the red and green game with a spilled ball allowing Coalville to run in a converted try within two minutes of the Rasen score.
Having registered their third try, Coalville continued bravely to battle for bonus points, seeking a fourth try and a reduction in margin to seven points.
Hooker Will Oliver received a yellow card with nine minutes remaining as Rasen fought a rearguard action and there was a further casualty as the home side were reduced to 13 men in the dying stages, Will Thornes also yellow carded.
However, the red and green line remained intact and Rasen will be in Midlands 1 East next season, whilst for Coalville it’s ‘squeaky bum’ time next Saturday as one of the four sides in the mix to fill the three relegation slots.
On the day Rasen played to their strengths and won through the execution of a simple game plan.
With one league game remaining the pressure is off, but the team should look for a good performance at Paviors, who themselves will be looking to secure the win that takes them into the play off as runners up in the division.
We should also spare a thought for Leigh Dearden who sadly departed the game early with a suspected broken jaw and wish him well for a speedy recovery.
Starling D, Oliver, Cole, Mills, Thornes, Chamberlin, Starling D, Dearden L, Starling M, John, Everton P, Jones, Dearden A, Harvey, Grint
Subs: Edell (Everton P), Inman (Dearden L), Southwell (Cole)