Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 18 - 15 Kettering 1st XV
The red and greens welcomed Kettering to Willingham Road on a perfect afternoon for rugby, but both sides belied the conditions with a surprisingly high number of unforced errors throughout the match.
Within two minutes Rasen were awarded a penalty, quickly moved on 10-metres by the referee following comments from the visitors to place it within kicking distance. However skipper Dave Starling opted for a touch kick to the corner, but the gamble didn’t pay off as Rasen were adjudged accidentally offside following the catch and drive from the lineout.
Within minutes the roles were reversed as Rasen conceded a penalty and gifted Kettering another 10-metres with an inappropriate remark. Kettering fullback Joe Daniel had no hesitation in pointing towards the posts, but his well struck kick failed to hit the target.
The two sides vied with each other and it was difficult to see where the first score would come from until Rasen spilled a pass for Kettering to regain possession. A deft chip by fly half Josh Plowright over the advancing red and green defence resulted in a race for the touchdown that was won by Daniel, who then picked himself up to slot the conversion and give Kettering a seven point lead.
Rasen responded positively with Starling charging up field before linking with scrumhalf Chris Everton, who cleverly held the defence before popping the ball to centre George Eddell, ghosting up on the outside to score wide out.
The younger Everton was soon in action again with a quick tap penalty and a searing run that took play deep into Kettering’s twenty two, but unfortunately he didn’t hear the call of wing Nick Harvey manoeuvring himself into space in readiness for a scoring pass.
Kettering centre Joe Newman had already been admonished by the referee earlier in the game before a second indiscretion earned him a 10-minute break in the sin bin. Rasen desperately wanted to capitalise on this advantage, but for the second time the much vaunted catch and drive came to nought and Kettering had the chance to relieve the pressure with a scrum.
Chris Everton flew from the scrum to pressure the kicker Daniel, who with one eye on the red and green scrumhalf fumbled the ball forward. With vulture like scavenging instincts, Starling had burst from the side of the scrum and was on hand to snatch a try from the loose ball to give Rasen a 10-7 lead at the interval.
Rasen began the second half strongly and with supreme continuity backs and forwards combined to move the ball from one side of the pitch to the other before the play culminated with Harvey coming from his opposite wing to score in the corner.
Two minutes later Kettering were awarded a penalty and taking a pragmatic approach, Daniel slotted the kick to chip away at the red and green lead.
An injury to Rasen prop substitute Jon McKechtnie, who had earlier replaced Ollie Cole, resulted in the scrums going uncontested and somewhat blunted the Rasen armoury.
As the afternoon grew cooler the atmosphere intensified with the two evenly matched sides seeking a break through whilst attempting to eliminate any error that could prove costly, but neither side could get a foothold in the other’s territory or gain any supremacy to land the killer blow.
Daniel attempted an ambitious long range penalty and wasn’t too far off target before Rasen fullback Meehal Grint, who had a nil return at this stage, put further daylight between the sides with a sweetly struck penalty.
This left a hectic four minutes still to play with Rasen almost stretching their lead as an angled run from the wing by Peter Everton was curtailed agonisingly short of the line.
Kettering showed remarkable resilience and went on the attack themselves to heap pressure on the red and green defence. Eventually the resistance was broken as a quick tap penalty pushed Rasen back and then a long pass found winger James Taylor to dive over in the corner.
In the gathering gloom Rasen managed to quell the final Kettering onslaught to see out the final minute of the game for a hard fought narrow victory.
At the half way stage, having played all of the teams once, Rasen lie sixth in the league and should have no fears for the second half of the season.
The side now has a togetherness and is capable of playing quality rugby, but must remain focussed to be competitive in the games to come.
Next week unbeaten league leaders Peterborough Lions are the visitors to Willingham Road for a 2.15pm kick off.
Rasen: Ashton, Alldridge, Cole, Mills, Dearden L, Pryer, Starling D, Chamberlin, Everton C, Sutton, Everton P, Eddell, Beasley, Harvey, Grint. Subs: McKechtnie (Cole), Inman (McKechtnie), Robinson (not used)
Kettering: Ling, Martin, Fraher, Bishop, Barnes, Bartley, Street, Chapman, Bridgeman, Plowright, Taylor, Newman, Butlin, Kellman, Daniel. Subs: Santos, Noble, Conyard
Team P W D L F A Diff B Pts Pts Adjust
Peterborough Lions 13 13 0 0 563 188 375 13 65 0
Derby 13 12 0 1 368 256 112 9 57 0
Bugbrooke 13 10 0 3 357 276 81 8 48 0
Newark 13 10 0 3 365 279 86 7 47 0
Old Northamptonians 13 9 0 4 287 208 79 8 44 0
Market Rasen & Louth 13 7 1 5 361 299 62 9 39 0
Kettering 13 5 0 8 344 275 69 8 28 0
Ilkeston 13 5 0 8 267 265 2 7 27 0
Paviors 13 5 1 7 268 300 -32 5 27 0
Mansfield 13 5 1 7 270 307 -37 5 27 0
Huntingdon & District 13 4 0 9 213 370 -157 7 23 0
Matlock 13 3 0 10 239 427 -188 7 19 0
Coalville 13 1 0 12 225 466 -241 5 9 0
Peterborough 13 0 1 12 209 420 -211 5 7 0