Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 0-30 Bedford Athletic 1st XV
It is some time since the red and greens failed to register on the scoreboard, but apart from a few glimpses of invention from the home side and a solid scrum, the match was dominated by Bedford.
The visitors began with their high tempo approach soon having Rasen defending deep in their own half. At the first scrum Rasen spirits were lifted as the home pack continued where they had left off last week to make life difficult for their counterparts, but sadly this was the only aspect of the game where the red and greens performed to their true potential.
A penalty from Bedford fly half James Mortimer cannoned off the post in the 11th minute, but three minutes later the pressure told as play was switched across field to fleet footed Charlie Reed. The winger’s combination of pace and dazzling footwork was too much for the overstretched defence as he glided over the line for the opening score, well converted by Mortimer.
From the restart, Rasen made good ground with their progress eventually halted with Bedford going in at the side to give Meehal Grint his first shot at goal. The fullback had no problem with the distance, but pulled the kick just wide of the target.
Bedford upped the tempo again to force Rasen back into defensive mode, but despite their territorial advantage the visitors were finding it difficult to penetrate the red and green defensive line despite a few dangerous runs from the spring heeled Reed.
By half time two further Mortimer penalties had stretched the visitors lead to 13–0, but the Rasen line had remained intact.
With the wind at their backs Bedford changed tactics to make use of the elements, with more kicking for position from Mortimer and it was the flyhalf who opened the scoring in the second period with another well struck penalty.
Rasen found it difficult to escape the shackles and from a lineout following a penalty, Bedford drove the ball on and after several phases, prop Ryan Taylor forced his way over the line. The reliable boot of Mortimer added the conversion and the result was beginning to look a foregone conclusion.
However, Rasen made a spirited riposte as number eight Ben Chamberlin took possession of the restart taking play into the Bedford twenty two. As the play moved on Rasen were again turned over by the intensity of the visitors defence and the position was lost.
Back came Bedford with another catch and drive deep in Rasen’s twenty two, propelling substitute Luke Levitt over the whitewash for a third try, again converted by Mortimer.
A rare flash of inspiration saw winger Josh Lawton burst into the line before popping the ball to skipper Dave Starling, who took play to the edge of the Bedford twenty two before Levitt’s attempted interception from an offside position resulted in a penalty.
As the referee made the award Levitt unwisely kicked the ball away to earn himself a yellow card, joined almost immediately by Mortimer whose ill advised protest fell on deaf ears.
With a two man advantage surely Rasen could conjure up a score, but such was their abject performance that Bedford remained comfortable and still in control.
A neck injury to Bedford number eight Andy Ince halted play for a while and the game was then switched to another pitch whilst an ambulance was awaited for the stricken player.
With the two miscreants returning to play, Bedford thought they had achieved the try bonus as flanker Stefan Hughes-Brand reached for the line after another dangerous Bedford drive, but the referee adjudged it as a double movement and Rasen were spared further ignominy.
With the final play Rasen were awarded a penalty and rather limply decided to go for goal. Grint’s kick struck the upright and fell into the arms of flanker Leigh Dearden to charge for the line in a final desperate attack. Unsurprisingly it fizzled out with another Bedford turnover to leave Rasen pointless.
With such a lackluster performance and a penalty count of 16, equalling the worst level of the season, the result came as no surprise and considering the quality of the opposition perhaps the margin doesn’t do justice to the gulf between the two sides.
The mere fact that Bedford coped so easily for 10 minutes with 13 men amply illustrates Rasen’s lack of cohesion and application throughout the match with the exception of the set scrum.
The team usually raises its game against the better sides, but today there was a conspicuous absence of intensity. There is plenty to work on at training, but if the attendance continues to plummet as in recent weeks there could be more dark days before the season is over.
On Saturday Rasen travel to Belgrave, currently languishing second from bottom in the league, but on current form the red and greens can’t afford to rest on their laurels. A morale boosting win is desperately required before confronting Ilkeston in the NLD cup semi final.
Teams - Rasen: Haig, Alldridge, Cole, Mills, Pytlik, Starling C, Dearden L, Chamberlin, Gregory, Everton C, McStay, Beasley, Starling D, Lawton, Grint. Subs: Berger (Starling D), Pryer (Pytlik), Southwell (Cole)
Bedford: Walsh, Elliott, Taylor, Thomas, Meiland, Watkins, Hughes-Brand, Ince, Orton, Mortimer, Reid, Ryder, Mills, Darlow, Johnson
Subs: Bolton, Levitt, Martinaitas