Market Rasen and Louth miss out at fellow strugglers Huntingdon

Chris Starling drives forward EMN-171030-094216002
Chris Starling drives forward EMN-171030-094216002

The two racecourse sides battled it out in a game of little inspiration, littered with errors, as Market Rasen and Louth RFC sought to find an escape route from the league’s lower reaches.

Huntingdon had first use of the stiff breeze, while Rasen played downhill, but the latter was of little comfort as the wind severely suppressed clearance kicking as an exit strategy.

Jake Pryer looks to break free EMN-171030-094231002

Jake Pryer looks to break free EMN-171030-094231002

The hosts utilised their advantage to make the early running and went ahead after five minutes through Sam Hirons’ well-struck penalty.

With Huntingdon holding territorial superiority thanks to the elements, the game settled into another cat-and-mouse scenario as both sides had periods of possession and patiently went through the phases, but were ultimately thwarted by their own lack of precision.

Huntingdon botched a clear two-on-one break with such a poor final pass that winger Ben Taylor knocked on with the line at his mercy.

At the other end Rasen conjured up a superb passage of play to put Will Pridgeon away, but easing up instead of backing his pace, the winger was tackled by the final defender.

Tom Stephens makes the tackle EMN-171030-094205002

Tom Stephens makes the tackle EMN-171030-094205002

Huntingdon regrouped from this let-off and extended their lead on the half-hour with another Hirons penalty.

From the ill-directed restart Rasen were exposed again when Huntingdon gathered the ball and moved it wide to Barney West.

The winger sped past the flat-footed defence and only Tom Stephens’ excellent cover tackle saved Rasen’s bacon.

Hirons slotted another penalty to leave Rasen with two minutes to negotiate before half-time and considering their territorial disadvantage, the deficit was not insurmountable.

But Huntingdon had other ideas and exploited some weak Rasen tackling to surge forward with the last play of the half, creating an overlap for

West who skirted around the defence to run in under the posts and leave Hirons with the simple conversion.

Huntingdon seemed to cope better playing against the wind than their opponents had done in the first half, and Rasen did not enjoy as much territorial advantage.

The home side were not threatening Rasen’s line, but were getting over the halfway line and forcing the Red and Greens to attack from deep.

The loss of Chris Everton at fly-half forced further disruption on Rasen’s makeshift backline, but his increasingly versatile brother Peter stepped into the breach and instigated Rasen’s opening score.

Everton’s neat chip kick over the defence was retrieved by winger Isaac Machon who returned it back to the kicker. Everton’s mesmeric feet took him through the next line of defence before number eight Jake McKay steamed up in support to power his way past the remaining defenders for a clear run to the line.

Josh Lawton nailed the conversion, and Rasen now had 23 minutes to salvage the game.

Huntingdon came back strongly, but another misplaced pass was intercepted by hooker Matt Ashton, who had an outstanding game with his strong running and ball stealing.

Ashton made the initial thrust before handing over to Machon who sped away and was soon joined by McKay who took the scoring pass to grab his second try.

Lawton’s successful conversion put Rasen within two points, and three minutes later they were awarded a penalty.

With the wind at his back, Lawton was confident he could kick it despite the distance, but his attempt didn’t find the target.

Huntingdon breathed a huge sigh of relief and came back strongly as Rasen began to concede penalties.

They effectively defended a Huntingdon catch and drive from a penalty, but then lost possession as they began to build an attack from deep. Huntingdon continued to press, attacking the soft underbelly of Rasen’s defence, and eventually it paid off as the ball was moved for flanker Anthony Mourits to cross out wide.

The strength of the wind ended Hirons’ perfect kicking display, but Huntingdon were still seven points ahead with five minutes left.

A draw looked to be the best Rasen could now achieve, but it was not to be and their quest for an elusive first win continues.

On Saturday, the Red and Greens return to Willingham Road to take on high-flying Kettering (2.15pm kick-off).

Rasen: C. Starling, Ashton, Southwell (Scupham), Crowe, Chamberlin, Grant, Pryer, McKay, Holvey, C. Everton (Young), Pridgeon, Lawton, P. Everton, Machon, Stephens.