Market Rasen and Louth RFC fall apart after strong start
On a rain swept afternoon, Rasen began with real purpose and were unrecognisable from the two previous games as they drove at Paviors through the forwards.
Patience was the order of the day as Rasen built pressure until winger Tom Stephens was put away and hurtled down the touchline to score out wide.
Paviors were struggling to hold onto the ball in wet conditions and a spilled pass allowed Will Pridgeon to hack it upfield. Further pressure forced the visitors to concede a penalty and Josh Lawton extended the lead with a well-struck kick.
But Rasen had a let-off when George Billam sent his attempted penalty just wide.
The visitors failed to deal with Chris Everton’s towering box kicks, but after the marauding Rasen pack seized the loose ball and spread play wide, a scoring chance went begging with a knock-on close to the line.
Yet the home side soon continued their stranglehold, and from a lineout, Jake Pryer punched a hole through the defence.
The Rasen pack continued the move with prop Pete Southwell forcing his way over the line after some excellent work from the forwards.
Another Lawton penalty gave Rasen a 16-point lead with seven minutes left of the first half, but then it all went horribly wrong.
A mix-up just outside Rasen’s 22 allowed Paviors skipper Doug Billam to scoop up the ball and run in under the posts unopposed to give brother George a simple conversion.
And on the stroke of half-time following a penalty kick to touch, Paviors number eight Phil Eggleshaw powered over the whitewash from a well-worked lineout catch and drive.
George Billam’s conversion cut Rasen’s lead to two points.
And Paviors took the lead within three minutes of the restart through a George Billam penalty and three minutes later they brought on the whole of their forward bench to push the dangerous Eggleshaw into the centre.
Rasen’s plight worsened when flanker George Grant received a yellow card for a high tackle, and George Billam punished it further with a successful penalty.
With the visiting forwards aiming to take full advantage, Rasen had no answer as the Paviors pack rumbled over for another try following a lineout, again the result of a penalty. George Billam added the conversion.
Even when Rasen were restored to full strength, they were still in disarray as Eggleshaw powered his way past several defenders for his second try.
After such a lacklustre second half display there was a tiny glimmer of hope when Ed Nicholls’ neat chip over the onrushing defence was gathered by Josh White who marked his last game before departing for a new life in Italy with a consolation try.
Lawton converted, but Paviors had the final say.
With possession safely secured from another penalty lineout, Paviors moved the ball to their backs where George Billam’s neat inside pop pass put
Eggleshaw in under the posts for his hat-trick. Billam converted once more.
An enigma of a game in which Rasen started with some of the best rugby they have played in a while only to bizarrely succumb after conceding a soft try.
There was little between the sides in ability, but Paviors came through because of their belief and unity which was sadly lacking in the Rasen team. But their opening half-hour does show the calibre of game the team is capable of playing, albeit it needs to be for 80 minutes.
The biggest concern is the mental frailty which Paviors exploited and the absence of a reliable goalkicker.
Rasen: C. Starling, Alldridge, Southwell (Ashton), Inman, Chamberlin, Grant, Pryer, McKay, C. Everton, Nicholls, Stephens (Grey), White, Lawton, Pridgeon (Machon), P. Everton.
* On Saturday, Rasen travel to Peterborough who have made a successful return to Midlands One with two wins from three.
* Rasen’s Second XI were without a game last weekend, but the Third XI had their first outing with a trip to Sleaford.
Arriving with only 13 players, Sleaford loaned Rasen two men to bring the side up to the full quota.
After going behind 14–0, the Red and Greens rallied to run out 45–34 winners with tries from Will Scupham, Mike Starling, Ed Fanshawe, Charlie Benson and a Harry Wallis hat-trick.