Market Rasen & Louth beaten but not disgraced by leaders Old Northamptonians
THE Red and Greens went down 37-3 to Old Northamptonians in atrocious conditions – but can hold their heads high after a battling display against the table-toppers
Rasen's much-changed side was further hampered by late withdrawals ahead of the Midlands 1 East clash.
And, although the they had first use of a slight pitch incline, it was the hosts who struck first when fly-half Alex Rose kicked a penalty in the second minute.
After a missed attempt a minute later, opposite number Matt Sutton then found his range to draw the sides level after ten minutes.
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Rose's next attempt fell short before Old Northamptonians' front row forced their counterparts to stand up, giving him another opportunity, which he slotted to restore the home team's lead.
Moments later Sutton was back in action, but was unable to restore parity as his kick failed to make the target.
Back came the home side and, after a Rasen line-out was turned over, the home backs moved the ball wide to wing Adam Civil to take advantage of a clear overlap and score the first try.
This signalled a period of dominance for the Old Northamptonians, as they laid siege to the Rasen 22, but the visitors' defence held firm with a determination to keep their line intact.
Rasen had soaked up a lot of pressure, but a half-time deficit of 11-3 was not insurmountable.
The second period began badly for Rasen and with some confusion.
In the third minute, Old Northamptonians were awarded a penalty close to the Rasen line. Scrum-half Tom Goodman quickly grabbed the ball, tapped it and ran over the line.
The referee, looking over his shoulder and seeing Goodman ground the ball, blew his whistle. It looked like he was pulling the penalty back to be retaken, but in fact he was awarding the try – even though the initial action had taken place behind his back.
Rose added the conversion and Rasen literally had a hill to climb.
From a counter-attack, Old Northamptonians went through the phases to move ever closer to the Rasen line.
The alert Goodman, cajoling his pack as they moved forward, then spied a chink in the Rasen defence and sniped over the line for his second try.
It would be a further 23 minutes before another score.
But the heavy pitch eventually took its toll as Rasen were unable to contain the home pack in a series of scrummages, resulting in the referee awarding a penalty try. The score was converted by number eight Greg Mathers in the absence of the substituted Rose.
In the last play of the match, Old Northamptonians sucked in the visiting defence for centre Kieran O'Connor to gallop around the outside for the final try to make the score 37-3 to the hosts.