Market Rasen & Louth RFC find cutting edge to beat Ashbourne

Having struggled to take their chances in recent games, Market Rasen and Louth RFC finally clicked to put an under-strength Ashbourne to the sword on Saturday.

Tom Stephens crossed four times in Rasen's clinical display. Photo: Jon Staves EMN-190912-102316002

Rasen stepped up a gear, reaping the rewards for some quality handling in a performance which should increase confidence among the side after two weeks of failing to capitalise.

The bonus-point win moved the Red and Greens up to fourth and within five points of second-placed Dronfield.

Rasen took the lead after two minutes when a planned move brought Will Pridgeon off his wing to open up the midfield before linking with Tom Stephens who put Ben Young in at the corner.

Josh White ran the length of the field to secure another first-half score. Photo: Jon Staves EMN-190912-102301002

Ashbourne responded positively to control possession and drive Rasen back to their own 22.

Sam Jones broke through a huge hole in the Red and Green defence and flanker Steve Maznenko took the scoring pass to dot down under the posts. Jon Riley slotted the conversion.

Ashbourne’s lead was short-lived when Ashbourne failed to find touch and Rasen counter-attacked with venom.

Slick handling moved the ball to the opposite side of the field where Stephens finished in the corner.

Four minutes later, prop Pete Southwell, lurking unmarked on the wing, took play forward before popping the ball inside for Pridgeon to cross.

It was now one-way traffic as Rasen built up a head of steam and drilled a penalty into touch.

From the lineout possession, the Rasen forwards drove towards the line until the ball was released for prop Matt Ashton to charge through a big hole and register his first score, securing the try bonus point after only 19 minutes.

Young landed his first successful conversion before Ashton grabbed a second score after centre Adam Goodwin had shredded Ashbourne’s defence with an incisive break.

Another Young conversion stretched the lead and he had another opportunity six minutes later after number eight Jake McKay broke away to power through a shattered defence for a superb individual try.

Ashbourne returned to Rasen’s 22 following a series of drives similar to those that had preceded their opening try.

But this time the visitors lost possession and Rasen attacked from deep, and after some sparkling handling from backs and forwards, Stephens crossed the line.

Approaching half-time, Rasen switched off as Ashbourne capped another spell of possession with a try for flanker Jason Ainsworth. Riley converted to leave his side 39-14 in arrears.

Rasen had a dream start to the second half, scoring after only 27 seconds when Josh White ran from deep in his own half, hugging the touchline to evade the Ashbourne chasers.

Despite the scoreline, Ashbourne were still battling away with the meagre scraps coming their way.

Working the ball wide, Riley showed a clean pair of heels to sprint in under the posts to leave himself a simple conversion.

Riley secured a try bonus for his side seven minutes later when his sheer pace did Rasen again, streaking away from broken play to earn another simple conversion.

Cutting Rasen’s lead to 16 points. Ashbourne’s fanciful dream of an unlikely comeback was scuppered when substitute Jake Medd marked his final game for the club before returning to his native Australia with a try after a quick tap penalty.

Connor Janney took over the kicking duties and added the conversion.

Two minutes later another Ashbourne attack faltered and Rasen broke away through Stephens.

Southwell took the ball on with a nice turn of pace before delivering a perfectly-timed pass to put flanker Jake Pryer in the clear for a run around under the posts.

Janney added the conversion before the game moved on into the Tom Stephens show.

Another attack with precision handling was finished off by Stephens before Goodwin reprised his first half break to put Stephens in for another try. Ashbourne were almost dead on their feet, but summoned up their last vestige of energy to force Rasen deep into their own 22 and win a penalty which Riley kicked to end to their afternoon of misery.

On Saturday, Rasen travel to winless bottom club Ashfield for a 2.15pm kick-off.

Rasen: Howard, Ashton, Southwell (Crowe), Chamberlin, Janney, J. Norton, Pryer, McKay, M. Starling, White, Young, Goodwin (F. Norton), Berger, Pridgeon, Stephens (Medd).