Sat 16 Dec 2017, 14:15
It was all change again for the red and greens as injuries to Chris Mills, Peter Everton and the departure of Jake Pryer to sunnier climes deprived the side of three experienced players, but there was a welcome first outing for Chris Almond-Bell and the return of the prematurely retired Dave Starling. A penalty from Will Carrington after two minutes gave the visitors an early lead before Rasen were caught napping at a lineout where Oundle popped the ball to the front of the line. A quick drive forward and then a well-executed cross kick found Ben Milborne in acres of space for the winger to complete the score, arcing his run around the defence to touch down close to the uprights to make an easy conversion for Carrington. After these early setbacks, Rasen came into the game and exposed Oundle's vulnerability to the red and green forward power, which had been evident in the corresponding away fixture earlier in the season. A strong scrummage paved the way for the forwards to take the ball on before prop Matt Ashton burrowed his way over the whitewash. Within two minutes all the hard work was undone as Rasen switched off and Carrington waltzed through the absent defence to score under the posts and then added the conversion. Oundle secured their try bonus point from another Rasen error as the ball went loose in midfield. Centre Toby Snelling was quick to react and scooped the ball up to put Milborne away for his second try of the afternoon, giving Oundle a 22 -5 lead at the interval.
Rasen made a bright start to the second half with Almond-Bell driving at the heart of the Oundle defence and then extricating himself to pop the ball to the supporting Jake McKay. The young flanker took play on with some mazy running before the support completed the phase to release quick ball to the backline. A couple of passes and Tom Stephens, playing an unfamiliar centre role, found himself in the clear to charge over the line for the opening score of the half. Oundle came back and showed they were not taking Rasen lightly as they took a pragmatic approach when awarded a penalty, opting to secure a further three points from the reliable boot of Carrington to bolster their score and take the wind out of the red and green sails. Two minutes later Rasen paid the penalty for their narrow defence as Oundle worked the ball wide and the pace of winger James Keane, whose run began in his own half, was too much for the home chasers to cope with. Carrington slotted the conversion, but although Rasen were down, they were certainly not out. In a carbon copy of his first score, crisp passing put Stephens away to double his tally and give Rasen hope of their first try bonus point of the season with twenty-two minutes left to play. Just as Stephens had reprised his earlier score, Keane soon found himself in the same position as Rasen paid the price again for their narrow defence syndrome and the Oundle man tore up the touchline to score wide out to complete his brace of tries. In the gathering gloom Rasen cleared the ball from deep in defence, but Oundle fielded the kick on the full to launch another counter attack with number eight Rob Shingles finishing off the move with a powerful run to the line to complete the scoring in the thirty fourth minute. Rasen tried hard in the remaining six minutes to grab the elusive fourth try, but it was not to be.
It could have been closer had Rasen not given Oundle some early Christmas cheer with two gift wrapped scores and had a penalty decision gone the other way following an altercation when Rasen were building up a head of steam. Like other weeks there were pockets of good rugby and when Rasen shifted the ball quickly, it paid dividends with two tries, but it wasn't done enough and the inability to shake off the curse of the narrow defence is going to prove costly again if it isn't remedied. With Rasen rooted at the foot of the table it would appear that there is only pride to play for now and today it was there in abundance. Perhaps the return of some old war horses had something to do with it, but whatever the reason, long may it continue.
Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Ashton, Almond-Bell, Chamberlin, Norton F, McKay, Scupham, Noquet, Nicholls, Everton C, Norton F, Stephens, Pridgeon, Goodwin
Subs: Southwell (Ashton), Starling D (Scupham), Lawton (Pridgeon)
Oundle: Carter, Roberts, Jones, Phillips, Pegley, New, Potgieter, Shingles, Nyman, Tandy, Keane, Snelling, Carrington, Milborne, Winch
Subs: Griffiths, Lee, Bates
The league programme closes down for the Christmas break, but Rasen are in action again in the Lincolnshire Cup on 30th December away at Kesteven for a 2-15 pm kick off.
The second team had a convincing win today against Oundle seconds who did not have a full side, but still turned up to fulfil the fixture. This has become a rarity in recent seasons and Rasen sincerely thank Oundle (and the Rasen players who guested for the opposition) for turning out today when many clubs would have just cancelled.
Merry Christmas to all members and hopefully see some of you down at Kesteven to give the boys some support.
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