Market Rasen and Louth RFC pipped by leaders Coalville

Market Rasen and Louth RFC were undone by two lapses against league leaders Coalville in a tight game dominated by defence.

Market Rasen and Louth RFC lie fourth at the halfway stage of the season. Jon Staves EMN-191222-171110002

Despite the defeat, Rasen will go into the second half of the season full of confidence, lying fourth in Midlands Two East and without fear of any other side in the division.

Friday’s deluge forced a change of location as the Red and Greens decamped to the third team pitch, which itself was still heavy, leading to an attritional game. Promotion-chasing Coalville began the game confidently, playing through the phases, but they were met by an equally determined Rasen defence until the game was halted by two relatively long breaks.

The first was for injury and the other, remarkably, for running repairs to Coalville’s Joe Rumming’s boot laces.

Ben Chamberlin was unlucky to see yellow on the strokwe of half-time. Picture: Jon Staves EMN-191222-171058002

When play resumed, the attention to Rumming’s footwear had clearly done the trick as the number eight picked up and blasted his way through some indifferent defending to open the scoring for the visitors.

Fly-half William Keeling slotted the conversion to take maximum points from Rasen’s first lapse in concentration.

The remainder of the first half was a slog-out in the mud, with the visitors dominating territorially, but neither side gaining an upper hand.

The hosts showed glimpses of their attacking prowess with one sweeping move which opened up the Coalville defence.

But the slippery ball went to ground wide out with the line in sight.

As the half was drawing to a close, Coalville went on the attack.

Home skipper Ben Chamberlin made a real effort to get to the visitors’ winger Jordan Simpson as he was about to step on the gas.

Unfortunately, the fleet-footed winger stepped inside his man and Chamberlin’s flailing arm caught his shoulder to bring him down illegally and earn a yellow card.

The Red and Greens managed to see out the rest of the half without incurring any further damage and turned around only seven points adrift.

At the outset of the second half, the first challenge for Rasen was to see out the remainder of Chamberlin’s sin-binning, but another defensive lapse put paid to that. With four minutes gone, Keeling dropped his shoulder, feinting to go one way, but stepped back inside to splinter the defence and give himself a clear run to the line to dot down under the posts.

It left a simple conversion which Keeling landed with ease.

But this Rasen side is made of stern stuff and they weren’t about to lie down and capitulate against their illustrious opponents.

Slowly they got their game going and enjoyed a period of possession to work the hard yards against a well-drilled Coalville defence.

A penalty gave the home side the opportunity to drill the ball into touch, deep inside the visitors’ 22.

Sadly, the subsequent lineout went awry and the ball was turned over for Coalville to clear their lines, but the danger wasn’t over.

The relieving kick failed to reach the safety of touch and was gathered by Marius Berger who charged back upfield.

In a surreal moment, Coalville seemed glued to the spot as the Red and Green winger weaved his way past the defence to score wide out, almost unopposed.

This gave Rasen added impetus and they continued to dominate possession for a while as the Coalville forwards appeared to flag in the heavy conditions.

But their defence still remained resolute to repel everything Rasen and Louth could throw at them.

The visitors then appeared to gain a second wind to even up the possession battle, and astute kicking from Keeling kept Rasen pinned in their own territory, giving them an object lesson in how to close out a game until the final whistle ended the titanic struggle.

Rasen showed real commitment and as the season reaches its short Christmas break, the squad can be proud of the progress they have made on the journey from the beginning of a new season.

Apart from two blips where sub-standard performances ended in defeat, Rasen have played some good attacking rugby and developed a strong appetite for resolute defending.

The league programme will resume on Saturday, January 4 when Rasen travel to Ilkeston for a 3pm kick-off.

Rasen: Ashton, Alldridge, Crowe (Howard), Chamberlin, Janney (J. Norton), Grant, Pryer, McKay, Nicholls, White, Berger, F. Norton, Goodwin, Stephens (Wallis), Pridgeon.