Red and greens off to a disappointing start

Mike Starling and Sam Routledge - Rasen Rugby
Mike Starling and Sam Routledge - Rasen Rugby

Paviors 1st XV 25

Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 5

THE red and greens opened the season just as they had finished the previous campaign with a trip to Paviors and unfortunately again came away with nothing to show for their efforts.

Early pressure from the home side allowed flyhalf George Billam to open the scoring with a well struck penalty in the fifth minute before burly centre Crossley created havoc with a Jonah Lomu type run, where Mike Starling suffered the same fate as Mike Catt had done in the 1995 World Cup semi final.

This set up a good attacking position and Rasen were forced to concede another penalty, which Billam slotted to double his tally.

Despite these early setbacks, the red and greens regained their composure with the forwards settling into their game and putting together some phases.

Paviors eventually transgressed and fly half Meehal Grint was presented with his first penalty opportunity of the season.

The kick narrowly missed, but Rasen kept up the pressure and a further penalty was drilled into touch. A catch and drive ensued, but with Paviors back pedalling Rasen were penalised for “truck and trailer” allowing the hosts to clear their lines.

Within minutes Rasen were enduring a similar fate as a Paviors’ catch and drive was moving inexorably towards the line.

Flanker Bates was driven over for a try, or so he thought, but was left aghast as the referee ruled out the score for an earlier knock on.

The tit for tat continued as a further Rasen effort was held up over the line. As the half was drawing to a close Rasen were attacking deep in Paviors’ twenty two, but a turnover gave the Nottinghamshire side a chance to launch a counter attack.

As they approached half way with a three to one advantage, a superb tackle by winger Peter Everton hauled down fullback Kelly, who spilled the ball forward to bring the half to a close.

In a contest between two sides emerging from the close season like bears ending their winter hibernation, it was Paviors who were the first to spring into life in the second half, as winger Molyneux found himself in the clear and looking an odds on favourite to score.

However, centre George Edell managed to track back and his desperate tap tackle felled the winger to buy enough time for Everton to slip his hand under the ball as the Paviors man lunged for the line. The referee subsequently ruled the attempted score as a double movement and awarded Rasen a penalty.

This respite was short lived as Paviors scrumhalf Wilson broke blind from a scrum on the Rasen twenty-two and quick transference of the ball created an overlap for winger Cleaver to cross the whitewash.

The red and greens continued to battle away through the forwards, but a missed touch kick from Grint enabled Paviors to counterattack and force their way back deep into red and green territory.

A chip from George Billam was regathered and then passed to his brother Doug, who glided through a gap before offloading to supporting lock Crossland, who crashed over the line close to the posts to leave Billam a simple conversion.

Rasen gained another penalty when winger Chris Green, returning to Rasen colours after a season in the wilderness with Lincoln, was taken out by Crossley after he had put in a cross kick. This earned the big Paviors’ centre ten minutes in the bin and gave Rasen field position for another catch and drive.

This time the red and greens made no mistake as their potent weapon drove prop Chris Starling over the line to open their account. With time running out scrumhalf Wilson ran in a fine solo try evading several would be tacklers and taking full advantage of some tired legs in the Rasen ranks. Billam slotted the conversion to round off the scoring for the afternoon.

Neither side had “hit the ground running” in their first competitive game of the season, but after two pre-season games against weak opposition, Rasen now have a benchmark for the remainder of the season and can move forward having got the first league game out of the way.

Next Saturday Kettering, smarting from a home defeat to Newark in their first game of the season, are the visitors to Willingham Road for a 3pm kick off.

Rasen: Starling C, Ashton, Cole, Mills, Inman, Dearden L, Starling D, Chamberlin, Starling M, Grint, Everton P, Dearden A, Edell, Green, Ward

Sub: Routledge (used)

Paviors: Horvath, Majewski, Dixon, Pike, Crossland, Eggleshaw, Bates, Collingham, Wilson, Billam G, Cleaver, Crossley, Billam D, Molyneux, Kelly

Subs: Green, Peck, Weatherall (all used)