Market Rasen and Louth RFC edge to back-to-back wins
For the home side, this was a victory hewn out of immense character and despite some disappointment that a couple of scores were left out on the field, this was another step-up from last week’s encouraging performance.
The forwards were imperious in the set scrum and the backs opened up the defence several times with incisive running.
The task ahead is to maintain this mindset and attitude, which should ensure more victories, but beware of complacency.
Bugbrooke went ahead in the 10th minute after working an opening on the left touchline. Flanker Fanning charged beyond the defensive line before his perfectly timed pass allowed Mann to cross the whitewash out wide.
Rasen appear to have overcome their mental fragility when conceding an early score and were soon back on the attack.
Neat footwork from fly-half Dan Robinson opened up the Bugbrooke defence, creating a hole for Meehal Grint to burst through from full-back.
Desperate defending retrieved the situation for the Badgers at the expense of a penalty which Rasen were unable to capitalise on as they lost the resulting lineout.
The next lineout was a different story as the ball was moved swiftly along the backline where Jake Pryer took the ball on with his customary powerful running as Rasen poured across in support.
The onslaught was too much for Bugbrooke who were forced into conceding another penalty, and opting for another lineout, the catch and drive was executed to perfection as Bugbrooke were driven back over their line and prop Pete Southwell touched down.
The score was close to the touchline, but Grint bisected the uprights with a pinpoint conversion to put Rasen 7-5 ahead.
Another break from Robinson carved a huge hole in the defence, putting the youngster into open space, but the final pass to Josh White was a little wayward.
Suddenly defence was turned into attack as Bugbrooke’s dangerous winger Aaron Pepper beat several despairing tackles, but Grint’s solid hit stopped the speedster in his tracks.
Rasen finished the half strongly and Mike Starling appeared to have increased Rasen’s lead as he smothered a clearance kick over the line, but the referee ruled for a prior Red and Green knock-on.
The second half served up another stalemate with Rasen winning the forwards battle, particularly at the set scrum, but Bugbrooke’s dangerous backline, particularly Stephenson and Pepper remained a real threat from any part of the field.
Rasen certainly had the upper hand in territory as Bugbrooke only made fleeting visits to the Red and Green half. But they couldn’t press home this advantage despite the penalty count as the Badgers thwarted all further catch and drive attacks.
In the 18th minute Rasen changed tactics when a penalty was awarded wide out. Grint, confident after nailing his first-half conversion from a similar position, kicked for goal, and sent the ball sailing through the posts to extend the lead.
Going into the final quarter a resurgent Bugbrooke pressing the home defence, resulting in a yellow card for lock Ben Chamberlin.
But the 14 remaining players presented a united front and successfully managed Bugbrooke’s 10-minute advantage, still holding their own in the set scrum.
With Rasen restored to full strength, the game remained on a knife edge and the tension was palpable from the touchline.
A wayward kick headed straight to visiting fullback Calvert close to his own line, but lack of experience saw the youngster spill the ball forwards to concede an attacking scrum.
But Bugbrooke managed to turnover Rasen possession and began an ambitious counter-attack with the ball soon in the hands of the dangerous Pepper.
After making initial headway, Rasen bundled the dangerman into touch to end the game and seal a hard-fought victory.
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Southwell (McMillan), Pilkington (Inman), Chamberlin, Mills, Pryer, D. Starling, M. Starling, Robinson (P. Everton), Stephens, White, Gutteridge, Harvey, Grint.
* Rasen will look to make it three straight wins on Saturday at newly-promoted Dronfield who are finding the step up difficult having lost all of their previous games. Kick-off is 2.15pm.