Report: "The Tache"
Photos: Jon Staves
SSE Midlands 1 East
Market Rasen & Louth 1st XV 19 - 17 Towcestrians
They say that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but for the second year running Towcestrians contrived to lose the game after being in a dominant position. In a strange parallel with last week’s Scotland v Ireland international, it was Rasen who soaked up the pressure, but made the most of their scoring opportunities in the Scottish mould (although Rasen’s try scoring potential far exceeds that of the Scots!) whilst Towcestrians took on the Irish mantle of failing to capitalise on the lion’s share of possession. The visitors made the early running as a quick tap penalty caught Rasen on the hop and forced them to concede a further penalty for not retreating. This brought the offence within kicking range and chunky centre Ben Roe made no mistake to open the scoring in the second minute. The red and greens struck back almost immediately through a mixture of luck and devastating finishing. Fly half Jake Goodison’s ambitious long range drop goal attempt barely left the ground as it ricocheted off a Towcestrian into the path of Nick Harvey. The rangy winger relished the opportunity to showcase his dangerous broken field running and sped forty metres with visiting defenders flailing in his wake to reach the line untouched. Fullback Matt Sutton’s trusty boot added the conversion to give Rasen a surprise lead. Towcestrians redoubled their efforts to put Rasen on the retreat, but after some patient approach play the good work was unravelled by an injudicious kick easily marked by scrumhalf Jack Noquet. Throwing caution to the wind, the young halfback opted to tap and run from his own twenty-two before launching a huge kick downfield into acres of space. There was a further hack on before centre Adam Beasley won the foot race to make the touchdown. Sutton’s reliable boot temporarily deserted him, although touch judge Peter Dixon endeared himself to the visiting entourage by raising his flag for a successful kick, which the referee rightly overruled. Towcestrians came back with a vengeance to keep Rasen pinned deep in their own half. Eventually the pressure told when the ball was moved wide to the deceptively fleet footed fullback Matt Yuill whose skilful inside offload was seized on by scrumhalf David Stocks to romp over close to the posts. Roe added the conversion and the ascendant Towcestrians were only two points adrift. The visitors maintained the pressure and Rasen had an almighty let off when the midfield defence was cut open to allow Roe a clear run to the line. Unbelievably Roe’s joy turned to tragedy as he almost comedically fumbled the ball forward after crossing the line and a very relieved Rasen cleared the danger from the resultant scrum to retain their slender 12-10 lead at the interval.
The red and greens began the second half with purpose as the forwards made good ground deep into Towcestrians territory, but ultimately poor ball retention allowed the visitors to clear. Rasen maintained their early impetus, but from another turnover Towcestrians attacked from their own twenty-two. A long run from centre Alan Goodman was ably supported by his flyhalf Chrissie George who still had some distance to go as he managed to outpace the chasing Rasen defenders. Roe briefly atoned himself for his first half gaffe by landing the conversion. This signalled the resumption of Towcestrians occupation of Rasen territory. A high tackle from number eight Ben Chamberlin earned him a harsh yellow card to heap further pressure on the home side. Towcestrians pummelled away and were twice held up over the line, but resolute defending and myopic vision from the opposition ensured that Rasen came through the sinbinning with no detriment to the scoreline. Restored back to full strength, Rasen began to stem the flow of Towcestrians possession and an astute low kick from Goodison put Yuill in bother as he gathered the ball to be met almost immediately by chasing winger Peter Everton who bundled him into touch. Rasen won the lineout to set up a drive from just inside the visiting twenty-two. The forwards worked in perfect unison with an air of inevitability as they pushed the opposition ever closer to their line before prop Chris Starling made the crucial touchdown to bring the teams level. Sutton remained ice cool to slot the tricky conversion from wide out to nose Rasen ahead with eight minutes remaining. Within two minutes Rasen fell into the classic vulnerability arising in a team that has just scored and conceded a very kickable penalty. However Roe couldn’t handle the pressure and pushed the kick wide to compound his personal misfortunes for the day. The mistakes crept into Towcestrians play as they had to force the game with time against them and with the last play Rasen found themselves putting into a scrum on the edge of the opposition twenty two. To add insult to injury Towcestrians were penalised and Goodison thumped the ball out of play to end the game and give Rasen a remarkable victory.
A fantastic result with the superb team spirit in full display, but it is still unfathomable as to how Towcestrians failed to capitalise on the amount of possession and territory they commanded, which ought to have seen them run out comfortable winners. In the end Rasen rode their luck, but made the most of the limited opportunities with some excellent finishing. However the result does not detract from certain deficiencies as the penalty count remained high, midfield defence was weak and reaction to counterattack was slow.
Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Cole, Mills, Crowe, Dearden L, Starling D, Chamberlin, Noquet, Goodison, Everton P, Dearden A, Beasley, Harvey, Sutton
Subs: Bullivant, Bell (both used), McCorkhill (not used)
Towcestrians: Cahill, Gallagher, Causebrook, Kirby, Growler, Skelton, Baxter, Holton, Stocks, George, Nanci, Roe, Goodman, Wilkinson, Yuill
Subs: Chambers, Collins, Cartwright
Next week another home game with a stern test against Bedford Athletic currently lying third in the table, but on current form anything is possible and although the away fixture was lost, Rasen are still the side to score the most points against them. The kick off is 3 pm as the League have now adopted the first Saturday in March as the date to revert back to the later start rather than British summertime. Apologies to all those who arrived early for the Towcestrians game.