Rugby: Market Rasen and Louth 41-12 Matlock

Double try-scorer Rob Batterbury tees up a pass for Dave Starling during the 41-12 win over Matlock EMN-150809-083401002
Double try-scorer Rob Batterbury tees up a pass for Dave Starling during the 41-12 win over Matlock EMN-150809-083401002

The Red and Greens opened their Midlands One East league campaign with an emphatic 41-12 win over Matlock on Saturday.

It was a victory built on forward domination mixed in with a sprinkling of inspiration from the newly-assembled backline, writes The Tache.

Despite their lack of pre-season match time, Rasen made the early running, forcing Matlock to concede a penalty in the fourth minute. Hooker Tom Alldridge took on his new goal-kicking responsibilities and opened his account with consummate ease.

The hosts continued to build on their early breakthrough as Chris Everton darted through a gap on the blindside, but winger Will Pridgeon overran the pass with the line at his mercy.

There was no let-up as Peter Everton, easing into his new role at fly-half, stepped inside the defence, and with the support of the marauding forwards the ball was smuggled for number eight Ben Chamberlin to crash over.

Rasen hammered home their early supremacy as backs and forwards combined in a flowing move to allow Pridgeon to cross the whitewash.

Sadly that would be Pridgeon’s final contribution as his knee locked after scoring.

Another Red and Green onslaught induced a further indiscretion, allowing Alldridge to add a second penalty to his two conversions and take Rasen up to 20 points in as many minutes.

Matlock had barely set foot in Rasen’s half, but caught Rasen napping as they cleverly worked a huge overlap for centre Dan Hooton to canter in unopposed.

Buoyed by the score the contest became more even, but both sides were soon reduced to 14 men following a skirmish between Rasen prop David Haig and Hooton.

With half-time approaching, fly-half Everton ghosted down the blindside and used his winger’s pace to evade a despairing defence and stretch Rasen’s lead. Alldridge maintained his 100 per cent record with the conversion to give Rasen a comfortable 27-5 half-time lead.

Rasen began the second half with a bang as Ollie Cole left no-one in doubt who was collecting the Matlock restart.

With the ball safely secured, the substitute prop set off like an escaped bull, brushing aside the first wave of tacklers. Two passes later the ball was with debutant centre Rob Batterbury who capped a promising first half by sprinting under the posts to give Rasen the try bonus point after only 19 seconds of the half. Alldridge added the conversion.

With a mountain to climb, Matlock remained dogged in defence and offered glimpses of their attacking potential.

After 55 minutes, Hooton spied a gap in the home defence and darted through. Matlock were quick to support their weaving centre with some deft handling to put fly-half James Fairclough in for a deserved try, converted by scrum-half Tom Morton.

Rasen’s response was swift and six minutes later Batterbury was over the line again. Rasen worked the ball upfield through the forwards before a delayed pass took full advantage of Batterbury’s incisive running line.

With both sides tiring and in search of match fitness, the final quarter resulted in a stalemate with both sides gamely striving for another score without success.

There was inevitable ring rustiness in the first game of the season, but the early signs are promising. The forwards soon got into their stride, although new combinations in the backline will need time to bed in.

There will be harder tests to come, but a try bonus win is the perfect return from an opening game.

Rasen: Haig, Alldridge, Southwell, Mills, Thornes, C. Starling, Pryer, Chamberlin, C. Everton, P. Everton, Pridgeon, Batterbury, C. Starling, F. Norton, Norman. Subs: Cole (Southwell), Bemrose (Pridgeon), L. Dearden (unused).

* On Saturday, Rasen travel to Newark who lost their opening game 34–0 at Kettering.