Market Rasen and Louth RFC grind out Loughborough win
Mistakes were made by both sides in tricky conditions, but Rasen were guilty of impatience several times through risky offloads in preference to workmanlike recycling.
But the defensive shape was much better than the previous week’s defeat at Long Eaton and helped seal a 10th win of the season which kept them fourth in Midlands Two East and within eight points of top spot.
The weather had played a part in the away fixture when torrential rain had made playing conditions difficult, and the elements again played a part as a strong wind blew diagonally across the field.
The players took time to adapt and Loughborough made the early running with a tight controlled game, driving at the Rasen defence.
But the Red and Green line held firm despite having very little possession early on.
And after Loughborough’s initial forays, it was Rasen’s turn to enjoy a period of possession which didn’t always go to plan with one or two over-ambitious passes in the wind failing to reach their target.
After 17 minutes Rasen’s pressure paid off when a penalty was kicked to touch to set up a lineout.
Despite the wind both hookers were reasonably accurate and this lineout saw Fred Fenwick’s throw hit the target.
Rasen drove play forward and Fenwick was rewarded for his accuracy by finishing off the move for a 5-0 lead.
The home side seemed to be gaining the upper hand, but it took a piece of individual brilliance to turn the superiority into points.
From a counter-attack, centre Josh White received the ball 30 metres out and set off on an arcing run which he continued all the way to the line, with Loughborough unable to lay a hand on him.
The pendulum then swung the other way as Loughborough began to claw their way back into the game, slowly building field position.
Desperate defending forced Rasen to concede a penalty deep in their own 22 which Loughborough opted to scrum.
From this solid platform the visitors took play closer to the line, with lock Jamie Grice eventually forcing his way over after a series of drives.
While the wind had proved difficult for Rasen kicker Ben Young, Loughborough full-back Tom Kirkby expertly judged the gusts to slot the conversion reduce the deficit to three points with half-time approaching.
In the first half neither side were able to capitalise on their possession and it was a similar scenario in the second.
Much of the play took place between the respective 22s with neither side really threatening.
Rasen’s best chance came when prop Matt Ashton made a long run, brushing aside visiting defenders.
But at the vital moment he couldn’t get the ball away to Chris Everton, steaming up from full-back with a clear run to the line.
The hosts continued to threaten, but a fumble in midfield ended in the ball falling loose, and a promising attack turned into a defensive panic.
Loughborough hacked the ball upfield and continued to put boot to ball, but fortunately the bounce of the ball did not favour the visitors and gave Rasen enough time to get back and snuff out the attack.
Thereafter the game became a nervous affair, with both sides knowing the outcome was on a knife-edge with the next score pivotal.
No quarter was given and both sides defended defiantly to the bitter end, but crucially Rasen held the slender three-point advantage when the final whistle blew.
There is a break in the league programme next weekend, and Rasen return to league action on Saturday, February 15 when Nottingham Casuals visit Willingham Road for a 2.15pm kick-off.
Rasen: Ashton (Howard), Fenwick, Southwell, Chamberlin, Crowe, J. Norton (Janney), Grant, Pryer, Nicholls, Starling, Young, White, Goodwin, Pridgeon (Everton), Holvey.