Market Rasen and Louth RUFC show real steel to grind out victory
MARKET Rasen and Louth RUFC came out on top of a hard-fought game with Newark to emerge as narrow 24-18 winners.
In a complete role-reversal from the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, it was Rasen who were in control for much of the game before facing a determined onslaught from Newark in the final-quarter.
The hosts kicked off in near-perfect conditions and were soon on the attack, but Rasen thwarted the initial forays and took the initiative themselves.
A neat break from centre Adam Beasley forced Newark back into their own twenty-two before the forwards recycled the ball and took play to the left.
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Right winger Nick Harvey burst into the line and cut back inside to open the scoring in the sixth minute.
Full-back Matt Sutton added the conversion to get the visitors off to an impeccable start.
The Red and Greens mounted another period of sustained pressure straight from the restart, as the backs and forwards combined to take play closer to the Newark line.
And, as the ball was popped up, nothing was going to stop the colossus that is prop Ollie Cole from charging over.
Newark recovered from this early barrage and came back into the game with an 18th-minute penalty from fly-half Matt Cox that began their own campaign of attacks.
Cox missed another penalty before Newark opened up the Rasen defence to create an overlap for winger Johnny Statham.
Sutton managed to snuff out the danger with a last-ditch tackle, but Newark maintained their momentum and forced the Red and Greens to give Cox another penalty chance, which he duly converted.
However, the pendulum soon swung back in Rasen's favour as they attacked from a line-out midway between the halfway line and the Newark twenty-two.
Prop Chris Starling charged forward, relishing another run in open play, and was unlucky when his pass failed to find his brother Dave at full-tilt.
However, Newark had prevented this by unlawful means and Rasen were awarded a penalty, which was kicked to touch.
The catch-and-drive worked to perfection and fittingly it was Chris Starling who completed the score to give his side a 17-6 lead at the break.
Rasen began the second period on the front foot before Harvey was illegally impeded by full-back Mark Byrom as he chased a kick-through two minutes after the restart.
The Newark man was sent to the touchline with a yellow card for a ten minute break and Rasen looked to take advantage of the extra man.
The penalty line-out provided the launch pad as Rasen secured possession before Harvey cut through again and managed to reach the line.
Sutton's sure-footed conversion gave the visitors an 18-point cushion with eight minutes remaining on the sin binning, but unfortunately the Red and Greens could not add to the scoreline before Newark got back to their full compliment.
With 16 minutes gone, Harvey was adjudged to have deliberately knocked the ball on and the referee brandished another yellow card, leaving Rasen to cope with a numerical disadvantage.
Newark seized their chance and were soon within range of the Rasen line, but staunch defending from the home forwards temporarily kept them at bay.
Backed by a home crowd, Newark remained camped on the Rasen line until scrum-half Matt Clark spied a gap to force his way over.
This score revitalised the home side who upped the tempo of their game and tore straight back down-field from the restart.
Newark continued to batter a way through the forwards and neglected the numerical superiority in the back-line for a spell before finally moving the ball wide for skipper and winger Chris Tate to cross for a try.
Cox added the conversion to bring Newark to within six points with 16 minutes left to play, including two remaining on Harvey's sin-binning.
For the remainder of the game, Rasen were unable to escape from their own half and with a rising penalty count, the home crowd could sense a dramatic comeback.
What the crowd had not bargained on, however, was the resolve of the men in red and green, whose sheer grit and determination kept Newark out to record a hard-fought victory.
This weekend, Market Rasen and Louth RUFC have another re-arranged fixture with a trip to relegation- threatened Loughborough.