Market Rasen 1st XV 25
Bedford Athletic 1st XV 16
ON a beautiful autumnal afternoon the two teams poignantly observed a minutes silence in advance of Remembrance Sunday before they began their own hostilities.
Early pressure from Bedford Athletic forced Rasen to concede a penalty after five minutes and fly half James Mortimer made no mistake to give the visitors an early lead.
The red and greens were back on terms within two minutes when Bedford strayed offside, giving fullback Meehal Grint his first kicking opportunity, which he landed with ease.
The penalty ping pong continued as Mortimer struck another penalty from the Rasen ten metre line to restore his side’s lead.
The two teams seemed evenly matched as the red and greens made huge inroads through a flowing passage of play with some good handling before the move broke down deep in the Bedford twenty-two.
Bedford came back and a powerful run from lock Martin Wolfenden set alarm bells ringing in the Rasen defence before hasty regrouping snuffed out the danger.
A quick twenty two drop out from centre Paul Cook went awry as Rasen were caught in possession to give Mortimer another shot at goal, which he duly converted.
However, this Rasen side are slowly learning the virtue of patience and continued to work the phases, probing for an opening.
It eventually came as number eight Dave Starling took the ball blind to be confronted by a lone defender. With open side Ben Chamberlin in support Starling timed his pass to perfection to watch on as Chamberlin galloped over the line for the first try of the match.
Grint added the conversion for the score to tip back in favour of the home team.
There was more drama to come as scrumhalf Andy Neesham looked aghast as his pass was intercepted by his opposite number Tom Orton with acres of space in front of him, but in the absence of any Bedford support Cook masterfully shepherded him before making the tackle that ended the threat to see Rasen reach half time with a slender 10 – 9 lead.
The second half began well for Rasen as lock Dean Hutchinson, clearly recovered from his midweek run out with the Vets, charged through the visitors defence, and with good support in tow, Bedford could only stop the red and green momentum by conceding a penalty, allowing Grint’s trusty boot to add the three points.
In this seesaw match fortunes tipped again with a Bedford counter attack that put winger Stephen Woodhead into space.
After initially using his pace, the Bedford man executed a perfect chip over the home defence and then collected his own kick to cross the whitewash.
Mortimer slotted the conversion as the lead changed hands again. Emotions changed rapidly for the visitors as replacement James Ball, returning from injury, entered the fray only to depart three minutes later with a yellow card.
Rasen took full advantage as they mercilessly pummelled the Bedford defence like a barbarian hoard trying to gain access to a medieval castle.
Eventually the brave resistance was broken with Hutchinson charging over the line and the advantage was rammed home with another successful Grint conversion.
The effect of this red and green onslaught had clearly sapped Bedford’s energy as Rasen continued to dominate territorially.
With nine minutes left the deadly Chamberlin, Starling double act struck again. From a scrum close to the Bedford line Starling picked up at number eight and linked with Chamberlin who crashed over the line.
For once Grint’s deadly boot failed him and the conversion was missed, but crucially the score had pushed Rasen beyond a seven point differential to potentially deny Bedford a losing bonus point.
This fact had clearly not escaped the visitors who miraculously found new resources of energy and pushed Rasen deep into their own twenty-two.
Bedford came close when fullback Ben Johnson came into the line, but his tunnel vision ignored a clear overlap for his winger and the magnificent Rasen defence closed the door to send the visitors home pointless.
Another tough encounter, but Rasen are developing their own tough mentality that was lacking in earlier games and gaining in confidence with every match.
The team is no longer over awed by the reputation of the opposition and can look forward to more victories in the remainder of the season as long as they can maintain, or even improve upon, their level of application and mental strength.
Next week Rasen travel to picturesque Matlock fresh from a defeat at Leighton Buzzard, but having only lost one game at home. With the second team also travelling to Matlock there is a coach running to the game.