Market Rasen and Louth RFC recovered from their thumping in the Notts, Lincs and Derbys Cup to put their league campaign back on track with an emphatic win over Newark.
The visitors had arrived, sitting two places above Rasen in Midlands Two East (North), but the red and Greens showed spirit to soak up pressure and then take their chances with some clinical finishing in a 33-10 win.
Newark made the brighter start and attacked from kick-off, forcing Rasen deep into their own territory by playing the phases, but the home defence was resolute against this early onslaught and Newark’s precision was way below par as they spilled passes and lost possession.
Rasen opened the scoring after 10 minutes when good work from the forwards gave the backs a solid platform and swift handling put Ben Young through a gap for a sprint to the line.
But the centre took a knee to the back in the act of scoring and was forced to retire from the action.
Spen Holvey’s superb conversion from wide out gave Rasen the full compliment of points.
The game reverted to the earlier passages as Newark worked to get back on terms, but their play was still littered with errors and Rasen took full advantage.
A turnover deep in Rasen’s half was the catalyst for a second score, with Newark left flatfooted and forced to turn as their hosts broke out of defence.
A perfectly-timed pass from Tom Stephens drew the last defender to put Will Pridgeon, on for Young, away up the touchline and in for a try, again beautifully converted by Holvey.
The pattern continued, with Newark back on the attack and Rasen forced into defensive mode.
When Newark were awarded a penalty close to their hosts line there was no hesitation in opting for a scrum as the Rasen set piece had shown worrying signs of crumbling under pressure.
Newark pushed back the Red and Green pack for number eight Dave Garland to pick up and force his way over the whitewash.
From the restart the now familiar scenario ensued as Newark attacked, made an error and Rasen pounced to score.
This time as Newark spilled the ball, Will Stephens hacked it upfield and set off in hot pursuit.
As the winger was illegally impeded, a penalty looked imminent, but good follow-up work resulted in flanker Jake Pryer reaching the ball and then expertly popping it up for supporting lock Will Inman to gallop in at the corner to extend the lead.
When the half-time whistle sounded, almost five minutes early, Rasen had a comfortable 19-5 lead despite Newark having the greater share of possession.
The start of the second half saw Rasen move from the depths of despair to the height of ecstasy in the space of two minutes.
Holvey’s restart was woefully short of the requisite 10 metres and sensing supremacy in the set piece, Newark opted for a scrum on halfway.
Unfortunately for them, the scrum turned and the ball squirted out for the alert Will Fenwick to gather and set Rasen back on the attack.
Rasen continued to work their way forward and number eight Jake McKay cut back across the field with enough pace to beat the chasing defenders and grab the all-important bonus try.
Holvey bagged another two points from the simple conversion.
To Newark’s credit, they continued to battle away, but a lack of precision continued to haunt them until a stroke of good fortune gave them hope.
Deep inside Rasen’s 22, playing a penalty advantage, Newark fly-half Alex Scott launched a towering speculative crossfield kick towards substitute forward Logan Watt, filling in on the wing.
Watt failed to gather the kick cleanly and to the watching crowd, appeared to knock on, but the referee thought otherwise.
Play continued and Watt finally gathered the ball and crashed over the whitewash to give the visitors an unexpected boost.
Rasen’s response was exemplary as they produced some scintillating rugby, with a series of superb offloads to maintain the forward momentum.
Pridgeon then incisively stepped inside to go clear of the defence and dot down by the posts.
Holvey completed the job with another well-struck conversion and within four minutes Newark’s score had been wiped out with interest.
Two minutes later, Newark were dealt another blow as flanker James Brogden received a yellow card for a high tackle.
By now Rasen were playing with a high level of confidence, looking to attack from almost anywhere, but moving to the higher risk strategy produced more errors and Newark weathered the storm without any further damage.
The visitors continued to strive for another score and had spells near the try line, but fatigue and Rasen’s tight defence denied them.
The hosts persisted with their adventurous approach, but neither team could add to their tally before full-time.
And it was double celebrations for the club as Rasen’s second team put Newark’s second string to the sword with a 50–17 victory.
On Saturday, Rasen make the long trip to Ashbourne in Derbyshire.
Rasen: Crowe, Alldridge, Southwell, Roberts (J. Norton), Inman, Chamberlin, Pryer, McKay, Fenwick, White, T. Stephen, Young (Pridgeon), Goodwin, W. Stephens, Holvey.