Rasen’s wretched start to the season continued as they shipped 60 points at home to high-flying Syston to remain winless in Midlands One East.
Syston were not an exceptional side, but outplayed Rasen for most of the game, executing their simple game well, particularly in the backline.
Morale is bound to be low after this string of defeats, but the players need to recognise they are capable of playing much better.
They have shown flashes of quality in every game, but the goal must be to put in an 80-minute performance, while developing a siege mentality.
The Red and Greens found themselves 14 points adrift after only six minutes.
Number eight Sam Harrison opened the scoring when Rasen failed to react to a quick tap penalty, and then conceded turnover ball, allowing Syston’s quick handling to create an overlap for centre Alex White to run in unopposed.
Laurie Harries landed both conversions to leave Rasen facing another game of catch-up which is becoming all too familiar this season.
The early setback brought some life into the hosts as the forwards began to get a measure of success with their driving game.
Syston found it difficult to contain Rasen and conceded a flurry of penalties as they tried to halt their hosts’ progress.
From a lineout close to the visitors’ line, the Red and Greens worked the catch and drive routine for skipper Chris Mills to peel off and crash over the whitewash.
Syston vented their frustration and were not allowed to take the restart as the referee awarded Rasen a penalty for back chat.
Rasen continued to exert pressure and looked to be on the up, but again they flattered to deceive.
After a short period of dominance, Rasen turned over the ball in attack and Syston broke out.
Luke Williams had plenty to do, but the winger was up to the task and hugged the touchline to sprint in for Syston’s third try, again converted by Harries.
From then on it was all downhill for Rasen as Syston took control.
From another turnover, the visitors worked the ball wide, a tactic Rasen had no answer to with their narrow defence, and winger Ed Knowles-Lorriman drew the last defender for centre James Rudkin to finish in the corner.
With the half drawing to a close, Syston broke again, but Peter Everton’s determined chase and last-ditch tackle appeared to have caught Joe Knowles-Lorriman and turned him on his back to prevent him from touching down.
The referee, some distance from the action, decided otherwise and awarded the try to give Syston a healthy 31–5 half-time lead.
The second half was no better as Rasen lacked any shape or inspiration and Syston mercilessly took full advantage.
Syston went on the offensive from the restart and after playing a long advantage they were rewarded with a penalty.
A quick tap caught the sluggish Rasen defence totally off guard and lock Robert Clay crashed over, with Harries adding the extras.
Five minutes later Clay was on the sideline along with Rasen’s Ed Nicholls after the two were involved in a minor skirmish.
A minute later the referee brandished a yellow card to a bemused Chris Everton and it was 13 against 14.
Syston ran in three more tries through Andy Jones, Matt Ferguson and Knowles-Lorriman, with one converted by Harries, through simple, well-executed rugby, before Rasen were restored back to full strength.
But Josh Lawton was sinbinned with six minutes left, and Luke Williams helped himself to another try for Syston.
Peter Everton, now playing at full-back having already filled in at wing, scrum-half and fly-half during the game, forced his way over the line after collecting the ball following a dogged kick and chase.
Nicholls slotted the conversion from wide out to end Rasen’s agony with the last kick.
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Ashton (Scupham), Mills, Chamberlin, Grant, Pryer, McKay (Crowe), C. Everton, Nicholls, Stephens, Dearden, A, Lawton, Machon (P. Everton), Pridgeon.
* There is a break in league action next week, but things don’t get any easier as Rasen welcome Derby, currently fifth in the Midlands Premier, to Willingham Road in the Notts, Lincs and Derbys Cup.