Following the week’s wintry weather conditions the heavy pitch made it hard work for both sides as they ran out at Willingham Road.
Rasen began with a good spell, driving up field and recycling the ball, but after absorbing the pressure Paviors started to get their game together to push Rasen back into their own territory.
A lineout catch and drive from a penalty inched the visitors closer to the line, but still playing advantage the final act of scoring was deemed to be a double movement. Paviors opted for a scrum that was quickly followed by another scrum where Paviors ceded possession for foot up and Rasen cleared the danger.
The game meandered on with each side having their moments. A hasty clearance kick was fielded by Pete Southwell with acres of space in front of him, the prop charged up field, but as play moved on the ball was spilled. Paviors winger Ollie Barnes hacked the ball on with Rasen’s Ben Chamberlin in pursuit attempting all manner of subterfuge to put the visiting flyer out of his stride.
Entering the Rasen twenty two the ball took a fortuitous bounce forcing the Paviors’ man to check and the home defence managed to smother the attack.
Moments later Ben McStay was put away on the Rasen flank before a high tackle poleaxed the youngster and left him prostrate on the ground. With the penalty safely dispatched to touch the Rasen eight set about their task with ruthless efficiency, driving Paviors towards their own line. The Rasen behemoth marched their way forward until flanker Leigh Dearden touched down to break the stalemate in the 28th minute. This was to be the only score in an unspectacular half full of effort in the cloying mud, but with few scoring opportunities.
Coach Ruari Pike must have injected some inspiration into his charges with his team talk as Rasen came out of the blocks to earn a penalty within 30 seconds of the restart.
Fullback Meehal Grint, unhappy with his earlier conversion attempt, made no mistake dispatching the ball between the uprights.
Opposite number Chris Oswin then had the chance to open the visitors account when Rasen were penalised for pulling a scrum round, but his kick fell short of the posts.
Two minutes later Grint was back in action to extend the Rasen lead with his second successful penalty.
From the restart Dearden gathered the ball and set off like a greyhound on speed evading the flailing arms of various defenders before linking up with the backline.
Rasen continued to maintain the pressure from a penalty lineout as Paul Gutteridge came from his blindside wing to burst into the line. With a two man overlap a score looked inevitable, but Gutteridge ignored his teammates and cut back inside. However, with the Rasen forwards in attendance, the ball was recycled and fired back across the back line for skipper Dave Starling to power his way over the line.
With such a strong start from their hosts, Paviors had been on the back foot for most of the third quarter, but they were far from despondent as they entered the final quarter heralding their own purple patch.
Paviors kept Rasen pinned in their own twenty two with a series of drives keeping the home defence on its mettle until scrumhalf Cameron Graham spotted a gap and darted through to put his side on the scoreboard.
Rasen’s response was swift and effective as three minutes later the referee ran under the posts to award a penalty try with Paviors unable to legally repel another onslaught from a penalty lineout. After Grint’s successful conversion Rasen had 12 minutes to score the fourth try for a bonus point, but try as they might they were unable to conjure a final spark of genius to open up Paviors for another score.
A workmanlike performance secured the result in stamina sapping conditions where the forwards coped well in the absence of the skiing props.
The backline also looked menacing on occasions with several telling midfield breaks, but lack of vision and timing of passes made them less of a threat than they ought to have been after the defence had been opened up.
Never-the-less a satisfying result to maintain the club’s league position and something to build on going forward.
There is no game next week with the league programme resuming on February 21 with a trip to bottom club Spalding.
Teams - Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Southwell, Mills, Inman, Dearden L, Pryer, Chamberlin, Everton C, Robinson, Gutteridge, Beasley, Starling D, McStay, Grint. Subs: Ashton (Southwell), Everton P (McStay), Pytlik (Inman)
Paviors: Peck, Majewski, Dixon, Pike, Crossland, Reeson, Johnson, Eggleshaw, Graham, Shakespeare, Barnes, Collishaw, Whettall, Ratcliffe, Oswin. Subs: Mason, Rogers, Green