Belgrave 1st XV 5-34 Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV
Despite the absence of several players and injury enforced positional reshuffles during the game, Rasen’s patchy performance secured a comfortable win with a try bonus point.
Initially playing into a strong breeze that couldn’t decide which way it wanted to blow, Belgrave made a bright start and soon had Rasen deep in their own twenty two.
After two relieving kicks, Belgrave continued to press as Gary Chikopa came off his wing to burst through the first line of defence before Peter Everton marked his return to Rasen colours with a crunching tackle on the home winger. Despite their early territorial advantage Belgrave lacked the killer instinct and it was Rasen who opened the scoring.
A neat break from flyhalf Dan Robinson opened the defence before the red and greens patiently worked the phases for Leigh Dearden to explode from a ruck and crash over the line. Robinson slotted the conversion and Rasen seemed to have settled their early nerves.
The scrum dominance of previous weeks was lacking, but the Rasen eight were holding their own as number eight Ben Chamberlin picked up from the base on half way. Linking with Chris Everton, the scrumhalf then released substitute winger Will Pridgeon on a long run down the touchline. As he was halted, Everton was on hand to take the ball on before popping it back to Chamberlin to power his way over the whitewash.
Robinson couldn’t make the conversion, but two minutes later made amends with a penalty to further stretch the Rasen lead. Belgrave continued to share possession with the visitors, but a promising attack faltered with a spilled ball on the Rasen twenty two that was pounced on by Peter Everton now operating at centre. Several weeks’ inactivity, and possibly the odd Woodbine, had dampened his pace, but he still made good ground approaching the Belgrave twenty two before the hosts felled his run, only to concede a penalty.
Rasen kicked to touch and from the ensuing lineout prop Matt Ashton drove the ball on before quick hands allowed the senior Everton to demonstrate some fancy footwork as he glided in to finish the attack he had instigated. Robinson slotted the conversion and moments later the young fly half almost scored following up his own chip and chase, but knocked on to give Belgrave a relieving five metre scrum to end the half with Rasen 22–0 ahead.
The promise of the first half was not fulfilled in the second as Rasen seemed unable to find a coherent exit plan when Belgrave spent long periods camped in the visiting twenty two, but they still managed to find isolated moments of quality to extend their lead.
A promising snipe down the blindside from Chris Everton came to a premature end when the scrumhalf was high tackled, but the red and greens made Belgrave pay for their indiscretion.
From the penalty, Rasen kicked to touch and although the lineout was still not functioning at its optimum level, possession was secured and driven on before lock Chris Mills peeled off to bulldoze his way over the line.
The game then ebbed and flowed as neither side could keep the ball long enough to put together any meaningful attacks. However Belgrave began to spend more time in Rasen territory as they sought a consolation score.
Their persistence eventually paid off as their forwards drove the ball on and after several phases it was popped back inside for lock Kirk Harpin to give the home support perched behind the try line something to celebrate as he crashed over the whitewash.
However it was Rasen who had the last say as a final penalty was drilled to touch deep in the Belgrave twenty two. Another catch and drive seemed to have been resisted until the referee scooted under the posts to award a penalty try. Robinson made no mistake from in front of the posts and Rasen had secured a morale boosting victory.
After a slow start Rasen perked up and showed signs of improvement from the previous week, although the quality of the opposition reduced the intensity of the pressure.
Coping admirably with their various backline reshuffles, the red and greens produced periods of quality rugby, but unfortunately this could not be sustained for the full 80 minutes and worryingly their own twenty two became a home for far too long.
However there were some glimmers of hope rising from the embers of the last two weeks mediocrity and something to build on for next week’s NLD cup semi final.
Next week Rasen travel to Ilkeston for the NLD Cup semi-final where the holders will be keen to keep one hand on the trophy and recover from a surprise defeat at Huntingdon.
Teams - Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Ashton, Mills, Pytlik, Dearden L, Pryer, Chamberlin, Everton C, Robinson, Lawton, Beasley, Starling D, McStay, Everton P. Subs: Inman (McStay), Gregory (Ashton), Pridgeon (Beasley)
Belgrave: Swindin, Towl, Singh, Harpin, Deacon, Wells, Addison, Jackson, Kyle S, Kyle J, Pollard, Clark, Warren, Chikopa, Curtis. Subs: Palmer, Barratt, Knifton