RUGBY: Market Rasen looking to end season on a high after Huntingdon win

Captain Dave Starling avoids the Huntingdon defence during Rasen's convincing win on Saturday EMN-150413-085945001
Captain Dave Starling avoids the Huntingdon defence during Rasen's convincing win on Saturday EMN-150413-085945001

Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 37-17 Huntingdon & District 1st XV

Market Rasen RUFC 1st XV ended their home season on a high with victory over Huntingdon, a win which consolidates their sixth place.

In a difficult cross wind the game started with some end to end stuff as first Huntingdon went on the attack before Rasen quickly had their first venture into the visitors twenty two.

The feisty opening exchanges settled down as Huntingdon fullback Dan Malem opened the scoring with a well struck penalty, but it didn’t take Rasen long to get into their stride as Adam Dearden opened up the visiting defence with an incisive break.

The red and green machine efficiently recycled possession as they made their way closer to the line with a final pass finding open side flanker Jake Pryer to dot down over the whitewash. Meehal Grint slotted the simple conversion giving the touch judges an easy decision, something that would elude them later in the game.

With no previous bad history between the sides it was surprising that a niggling under current was developing, and after 18 minutes Huntingdon scrumhalf Jack Skidmore received a yellow card that was further punished with Grint’s successful penalty kick.

Despite being a man down Huntingdon found a new surge of energy to pressure Rasen deep in their own twenty two. As the Stags drove forward, Dylan Leney pulled off the wing and, forced into service as a temporary scrumhalf, sniped through a gap for a well taken try. Malem’s conversion was sailing across the face of the posts when touch judge Peter Dixon raised his flag for a successful kick soon to be followed by hoots of derision emanating from the touchline support.

The sides were now level on the scoreboard much to Rasen’s ire, but this only fuelled their determination and five minutes later the lead was restored. With Huntingdon under pressure the inevitable penalty came and was drilled into touch. The well oiled Rasen catch and dry mechanism was primed when Tom Alldridge’s pin point throw found the target and the men in red and green began their drive for the line. Huntingdon were powerless as the Rasen juggernaut drove them over the line for Alldridge to finish with his first try of the season.

Rasen continued to have the better of the forward exchanges, making ground through their hard work. As the half was drawing to a close Chris Everton took the ball blind to find Alldridge on the charge. The hooker delivered the perfect pass for winger Adam Beasley to take at pace and round the remaining defence to score wide out. Rasen ended the first half 20–10 ahead.

The third quarter was a stalemate with both sides hammering away at each other with little ground given. Dave Starling received a yellow card in the 11th minute, but like Huntingdon had done in the first half, this stiffened Rasen’s resolve before six minutes later the sides were evened up with the dispatch of Stag’s lock Wayne Bradley to the sin bin.

When Rasen were restored to full strength it was a different story as they laid siege to the Huntingdon line. The visitors stuck to their task with some dogged defending that continued to keep the marauding red and green hordes at bay until young number eight Henry Spencer burst off the back of a ruck and powered his way over the line.

With parity restored, Huntingdon’s attacking pretensions became more plausible and some woeful defending from Rasen, where tackling seemed to become a lost art, allowed Malem to waltz through the red and green defence almost untouched. Malem added the simple conversion and with nine minutes left Huntingdon sensed a glimmer of hope with only a 10 point deficit.

That glimmer was rapidly extinguished by two pieces of individual brilliance from fly half Dan Robinson. As play was taken blind Robinson threaded a sublime low kick between the oncoming defenders that continued to tumble end over end for substitute winger Peter Everton to chase down. Previous aspersions regarding the senior Everton’s loss of pace were dispelled as he won the race for the touchdown.

There was still time for Robinson to make an electric break before putting Beasley in the clear with a perfectly executed long pass to dismiss the demons of the Derby interception in similar circumstances. The flagging defence had no chance as Beasley crossed the line to round off a well earned victory.

This was a great way to end the home season with some good rugby. It was not a perfect display and questions need to be raised regarding the poor defending that gave Huntingdon their final try. There was still much to praise and if momentary lapses can be eradicated it will put the side in good stead for the remaining two fixtures.

Rasen round off the league programme next week with a visit to Ilkeston, who will be desperate to avenge their NLD Cup defeat. Ilkeston lie fifth in the league with Rasen in sixth, but they cannot be overhauled. Derby could overtake Rasen if things go their way against Old Northamptonians, so there is still plenty to play for.

Teams: Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Cole, Mills, Dearden L, Chamberlin, Pryer, Spencer, Everton C, Robinson, Lawton, Dearden A, Starling D, Beasley, Grint. Subs: Southwell (Cole), Inman (Mills), Everton P (Lawton)

Huntingdon: Irving, Muggeridge, Chantler, Bentley, Bradley, Webb, de Almeida, Martin, Skidmore, Chapman, West, Bates, North, Leney, Malem. Subs: Polson, Shakespeare, Thorp