Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 25-29 Derby 1st XV
On a chilly winter’s afternoon the red and greens lost the opportunity of recording a first ever victory over a vulnerable Derby side keen to move up the table after some indifferent performances.
But lack of discipline and three yellow cards proved costly for the home side.
Rasen began the game brightly as Derby were getting the journey out of their system, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring in the 12th minute. A lineout catch and drive from a penalty set the platform before the ball was released along the backline for winger Ollie Saffell to glide around the Rasen defence to cross the line.
Fly half George Castledine added the tricky conversion before Rasen entered their first period of indiscipline starting with a failed kick off not travelling 10 metres quickly followed by the dismissal of number eight Ben Chamberlin, yellow carded for interfering with a jumper at a lineout.
However Derby couldn’t take advantage of their extra man as Rasen drew on their collective spirit to keep the visitors at bay. With the sides restored to parity Rasen exerted some pressure, but a promising catch and drive came to nought when the forwards were halted and fly half Matt Sutton’s chip was minored for a twenty two drop out.
The red and greens were now building up a head of steam as skipper Dave Starling’s determined run burst through Derby’s midfield defence before linking with his centre partner. Dan Robinson took the ball on and then popped it back inside for his captain to crash over the whitewash. Robinson slotted the conversion to bring the sides level, but the pendulum appeared to be swinging back in Rasen’s favour.
Rasen won a centre field scrum on the edge of the Derby twenty two for the ball to be released to the backs where Sutton created space with a neat wrap around, but his long cut out pass dipped before reaching its intended target of Paul Gutteridge. The winger reacted quickly, controlling the ball with his shin before picking it up to score in the corner to mark his return to first team action and put Rasen into a deserved lead.
There was still time for another twist before half time as Rasen conceded a penalty and Derby steamrollered their way over the line from a well worked catch and drive allowing flanker Reid to touch down. Castledine failed to add the conversion to leave the sides locked at 12 points apiece at the interval.
Rasen made the perfect start to the second period after a Derby fumble set the ball loose for Dave Starling to scoot down the touchline to squeeze in at the corner. The red and greens maintained the early pressure and stretched their lead with a Robinson penalty.
Despite this early set back, Derby picked up their game and immediately went back on the offensive, forcing Rasen deep into their own half. Under sustained pressure the red and greens were pushed closer and closer to their own line and when prop David Haig was sin binned, a Derby score looked inevitable.
The visitors catch and drive from the resultant penalty was resisted and Rasen found themselves putting the ball in at a defensive scrum, but that was turned over for Derby to reset to administer the coup de grace. Rasen were unable to prevent the Derby drive with number eight Ben Trembling touching down for a pushover try. Castledine’s conversion took Derby to within a point of Rasen and moments later the hosts conceded another penalty before being marched a further 10 metres on for an indiscrete comment to the referee.
Derby were building a dangerous momentum as centre Ben Marlow brushed aside his would be tackler to power his way over the line to put Derby in front. Castledine landed the conversion and rapidly followed it up with a penalty after Leigh Dearden became the third Rasen player to receive a yellow card.
Derby had now stretched the lead beyond seven points leaving Rasen facing the possibility of gaining nothing from a game where they had been the dominant force at various times, but with 11 minutes remaining now was the time for the red and greens to show their mettle.
Driven on by their skipper’s promptings the Rasen spirit resurfaced with a catch and drive from a line out assisted by several backs joining the forwards to push Chris Starling over the line.
With a four point deficit and eight minutes remaining a dramatic win was still possible, but Derby were too canny and Rasen too impatient for that to happen and sadly victory eluded them.
An easy game at Spalding the previous week had a detrimental effect with some players still operating on autopilot and not picking up the greater intensity of this contest until later in the game.
When Rasen were firing on all cylinders they were a match for Derby, but lack of precision at key moments and indiscipline resulting in three yellow cards, indicative of a dangerously high penalty count cost the red and greens dear. There were some good passages of play, but the nirvana of 80 minutes of consistent disciplined rugby still appears to be some way off.
Next week Rasen travel to Huntingdon as the only side not yet encountered in the league to finish off the first round of matches with a 2.15pm kick off.
Teams: Rasen: Haig, Alldridge, Cole, Mills, Dearden L, Starling C, Pryer, Chamberlin, Gregory, Sutton, Gutteridge, Robinson, Starling D, McStay, Norman. Subs: Harvey (Gutteridge), Inman (Mills)
Derby: Coombes, Thompson, Tomms, Atherton, Tilford, Reid, Hobbs, Trembling, Gundry, Castledine, Saffell, Taylor-Dawes, Marlow, Tebbs, Campbell. Subs: Twigg, Brown, White