The Red and Greens’ dismal run of league results continued as a collapse brought a heavy 41-7 defeat at Loughborough.
Much of the first half was a competitive affair between two evenly-matched sides, but the game ran away from Rasen who slipped to fifth in Midlands two East (North) and remain without a win since mid-November.
Playing down the slope, Loughborough opened the scoring with Tom Kirkby’s penalty and kept Rasen pinned deep in their own half for long periods.
Prop Matt Ashton twice thwarted the hosts by staying strong over the ball to win relieving penalties for holding on, but Loughborough extended their lead after 18 minutes.
Fly half Greg Biddle opened up Rasen’s defence with a sublime chip and gather before linking with centre Leon Fifield who ignored the support and evaded the remaining defenders to cross the whitewash under the posts. Kirkby added a regulation conversion.
Rasen had had their moments, and fulfilled their own attacking potential when Ben Young fielded a Loughborough clearance kick.
Powerful running from the winger tore open the home defence before swift hands found Jake McLoughlin on the outside to provide the perfect riposte to Loughborough’s earlier score as Rasen opened their account.
Tom Alldridge nailed the conversion from wide out and from then on it was real cat and mouse, with each side probing to find an opening.
But with half-time approaching, Rasen failed to find touch, and home winger David Appleby set off on a crossfield run which left defenders flailing until he was finally bundled into touch with the line in sight.
Loughborough camped in Rasen’s 22 where they patiently manoeuvred the visitors around until Biddle found a gap and popped the ball back inside for his half-back partner James Busby to scamper over.
Another Kirkby conversion gave Loughborough a 17-7 half-time lead.
Rasen began the second half in the hope of turning around what didn’t seem an insurmountable lead, but a litany of unforced errors often undid good approach work.
After six minutes, Kirkby threaded a delightful low kick between the oncoming Rasen defence and into the path of winger Jacob Abraham who gathered the ball without breaking stride, and sped away to score in the corner for Loughborough’s try bonus point.
Rasen continued to work hard, but seemed incapable of retaining possession, either losing the ball in contact or spilling passes at vital moments.
In complete contrast, Loughborough used the ball with superior efficiency to make inroads upfield whenever possible.
A break from number eight Kiran Hewgill proved irresistible when his strong running brushed aside any semblance of a Rasen defence to inflict further pain to the Red and Greens with a try under the posts, which Kirkby converted.
Rasen’s propensity to lose possession then found another outlet as poor decision-making saw hard-won ball kicked away to end any hope of increasing the score.
Loughborough’s line was never really threatened in the second half, with much of Rasen’s good play in the centre of the park before an error crept in to scupper it.
In the meantime, Loughborough helped themselves to two further tries, one of which was converted to put the gloss on a rather flattering scoreline.
The key difference between the sides was Loughborough’s ability to exploit and take their chances, while Rasen squandered theirs.
Rasen’s one score showed real quality, with strong running and accurate passing, but sadly it couldn’t be replicated.
After a good start to the season the side seems to be losing its way and isn’t playing with the same panache or structure that paid dividends in the first half of the campaign.
On Saturday there is a break before Rasen return to league action with a trip to Southwell on Saturday, January 26.
Rasen: Ashton, Alldridge, Howard (Southwell), Crowe, Roberts, J. Norton (Janney), Pryer, McKay, Nicholls, White, Pridgeon, McLoughlin, T. Stephen, Young, Holvey.
* The Second XV also had a bad day at Loughborough, losing 68–5.