High five for Market Rasen & Louth RUFC as Dearden delivers
MARKET Rasen & Louth RUFC grinded out a 25-20 victory at Loughborough as their surge of winning form continues.
The Red and Greens were not at their best, but bagged their fifth Midlands 1 East triumph on the bounce.
After 11 consecutive defeats, Rasen could notch as many successive victories if they maintain their winning run until the end of the campaign.
But just 13 more points from their six remaining games – the target needed for survival based on the league's current standings –is the club's priority.
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After back-to-back victories on the road, Rasen are back at Willingham Road this Saturday to face Towcestrians (2.15pm kick-off).
On their previous visit, Towcestrians – currently sixth and two places above the Red and Greens in the 14-team division – surrendered a 19-0 lead as Rasen stormed back to win 26-19.
They are not likely to be as generous this time around, and Rasen must chop their penalty count to avoid being punished.
They presented Loughborough with seven kickable chances last Saturday and the hosts amassed 15 points from them.
But periods of patience and composure helped Rasen pull together to grind out the win against the division's bottom-placed side.
A Loughborough team with 11 changes compared to the one that bagged their solitary victory of the campaign so far – at Willingham Road earlier this season – started well, but fly-half Lewis Waters missed an early penalty.
He made amends on nine minutes, though, before Rasen hit back with their first foray forward and, after the hosts were penalised for holding on to the ball, full-back Matt Sutton kicked the visitors level.
Waters hit the post, and Sutton slotted his second penalty to give Rasen the lead, as the kicking duel continued.
The Red and Greens bagged the game's first try when Sutton cut open the hosts' defence with some silky running to touch down. He added another well-struck conversion.
Loughborough responded and a Waters penalty reduced Rasen's lead to 13-6 by half-time.
An impressive Loughborough attack, from the shadows of their own posts, ended with centre James Brind touching down early in the second half.
Waters missed a relatively easy conversion to regain the lead, but struck a penalty soon after to give Loughborough a one-point lead.
After stern words in the Rasen ranks under the posts, the pack shifted into gear and won a penalty. From the ensuing line-out on the twenty-two, stampeding pop Ollie Cole charged over the line. Sutton added the conversion.
Waters was handed two penalty opportunities and he converted both as Loughborough drew level.
Rasen upped the ante again and the home side cracked as flanker Gaz Bottomley received a yellow card, although by all accounts it seems he was a victim of mistaken identity and the perpetrator remained on the field.
From the resulting penalty, a catch-and-drive bulldozed flanker Leigh Dearden over the Loughborough line for the decisive try score.
Loughborough piled forward, running the ball from all areas, in a jittery finale – but Rasen held their nerve.