Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 6 Derby 1st XV 30
ON an unseasonably hot afternoon, league leaders Derby arrived at Willingham Road with an air of confidence, but found themselves confronted by a determined Rasen side who gave as good as they got in a game punctuated by a number of flare ups.
Rasen got off to a flying start as lock Leigh Dearden fielded the kick off and broke the early tackles before offloading to winger Nick Harvey who chipped the ball over the advancing defender, but was unable to re-gather his kick.
However, in the second minute Derby conceded a penalty and centre Mihal Grint sent the ball sailing through the uprights to give Rasen an early lead.
This cyclonic start by the red and greens had clearly rattled their illustrious opponents as they failed to make ten metres with the restart, but Rasen were unable to capitalise on this and moments later were caught offside to give Derby winger Darren Hersey his first shot at goal, which he slotted to bring the sides level.
Two minutes later Derby were caught offside and Grint stepped up to restore Rasen’s lead, but within minutes Hersey was presented with a long range opportunity as Rasen were penalised for holding on.
The winger’s kick fell short, but Rasen were slow to react and the chasing posse of Derby players forced Rasen to concede a five metre scrum.
From the scrum, bovine number eight Luke Willmott took the ball blind to link with Robinson who flicked the ball inside for Hersey to cross the whitewash.
Rasen came back as scrumhalf Andy Neesham launched a perfectly placed box kick that was gathered by winger Hersey, just as flanker Dave Starling arrived to smash him to the ground. Unfortunately the referee adjudged that the Derby man had still been airborne at the point of impact and Starling was given a yellow card.
Within two minutes Rasen’s ranks were further depleted as an indiscriminate punch from hooker Will Oliver earned him a ten minute break in the sin bin.
Derby took full advantage of this and worked the ball wide to winger Chris Brelsford to outflank the over stretched home defence to score in the corner.
The visitors were looking for the killer blow, but despite conceding a series of penalties the red and green defensive wall held firm and kept Derby at bay.
Restored to full strength, Rasen launched one final attack as Neesham took a quick tap from a penalty, only to find himself taken out with a high tackle from Derby hooker Hobbs, who was dismissed to the bin. Grint was unable to convert the penalty and Rasen went in 13–6 down at half time.
The second period began badly as the Rasen kick off failed to travel ten metres to put Derby on the offensive. An early penalty forced Rasen further back as Derby kicked to touch.
The black and ambers secured possession from the line out and drove towards the home line. This time their force was irresistible and substitute Pete Wilcox, only on the pitch because of his teammate’s enforced absence in the bin, was driven over the line.
Fullback Peter Everton, who had been sound under the high ball all afternoon, made another clean catch as his dancing feet then enabled him to evade several Derby defenders as he made a clean break before linking with Dave Starling.
The flanker then made further inroads through a retreating Derby defence, but looking for support he was hauled down and Derby averted the danger.
The red and greens have had no luck this season and the fates played against them again as a nondescript clearance kick from Robinson struck a Rasen hand to put his well advanced teammates onside with the Rasen backline advancing.
Centre Mikey Robertson scooped up the ball and then put through a grubber kick for his centre partner Chris Meddings to chase. With the home defence flatfooted and Meddings’ pace, there was only going to be one winner as the centre touched down by the posts to give Hersey an easy conversion.
Another restart not travelling ten metres put Rasen under further pressure before a series of penalties gave Derby the chance to utilise their catch and drive.
However, skipper Ollie Cole marshalled his troops brilliantly and the red and greens repelled everything that Derby threw at them.
Frustrated by their inability to breach the red and green line from close range, Derby conceded a penalty and found themselves marched back 30 metres by the referee.
Unfortunately from the resulting lineout, Rasen overthrew and Derby snaffled the ball at the tail to set up their backs, where swift transference of the ball found the speedy Meddings out wide to score in the corner.
Derby continued to keep up the pressure before Rasen collected their third yellow card as centre Anthony Jones was penalised to take no further part in the game.
With time running out a superb last gasp tackle from Dave Starling prevented Brelsford from scoring in the corner, but Derby had accomplished their goal with a bonus point win, although probably with more resistance than they had thought at the outset.
Rasen were given a lesson as Derby punished them for the undisciplined performance, although Starling’s was perhaps a little harsh, and more restraint is required in the face of verbal tirades when playing against such loquacious opposition.
Next week Rasen travel to fellow promoted side Loughborough.
Rasen: Starling C, Oliver, Cole, Dearden L, Chamberlin, Barr, Starling D, Thornes, Neesham A, John, Dearden A, Jones, Grint, Harvey, Everton P
Subs: Hutchinson (Barr), Scheepers (Dearden A), Southwell (Cole)
Derby: Coombes, Hobbs, Pass, Goosey, Atherton, Brown, Bullions, Willmott, Robinson, Hutchinson, Brelsford, Robertson, Meddings, Hersey, Brown
Subs: Dodds, Saffell, Wilcox