Sat 6 Jan 2018, 14:15
The red and greens had hoped to build on last week’s morale boosting victory in the Lincolnshire Cup at Kesteven, but the harsh reality of the gulf in the quality of the opposition put paid to that as Paviors ruthlessly exploited Rasen’s deficiencies. It was an inauspicious start to the New Year as Paviors in their change strip waited patiently for Rasen to emerge from the dressing rooms. The reason for the delay soon became evident as Rasen took to the field sporting Paviors first choice jerseys as last week’s launderer had absentmindedly left the Rasen strip at home, but at least they were red and green! Within two minutes centre Doug Billam had cut through the Rasen midfield defence to put his brother George in under the posts to leave himself with an easy conversion. An early break by Chris Everton, filling in at flyhalf, gave a glimpse of Rasen’s attacking potential, but Paviors’ swarming defence snuffed out the danger to quickly turn defence into attack. Swift movement of the ball along the backline gave winger Robert Ratcliffe a clear run to the line as he hugged the touchline to score in the corner. Paviors continued to maintain the pressure and after retrieving a Rasen twenty-two drop out worked the narrow side for Matt Molyneux to join the line from fullback and glide in at the corner. Despite the scoreline, Rasen were holding their own in the set scrummage, but elsewhere speed of reaction failed to knock Paviors out of their stride. A poor pass from scrumhalf Jonty Green from one scrum failed to find his flyhalf, but George Billam still had time to recover the ball and then surge through a huge hole to return his brother’s earlier favour and give Doug Billam the scoring pass to secure the try bonus. George Billam added the conversion as the first quarter of the game concluded with no sign of any way back for Rasen. The men in red and green, albeit a different shade, were down, but definitely not out as they worked hard through the forwards to gain a foothold in Paviors territory. After several penalties, Rasen opted for a kick at goal and hooker Tom Alldridge obliged to put some points on the board for the visitors. However, the forwards exertions had taken their toll and it was the Paviors forwards driving play that took the home side deep into Rasen’s half before the sheer pace of Terio Veilawa was too much for the defence to prevent the Fijian import scoring in the corner to give Paviors a healthy 29 – 3 lead at the interval.
The second half was similar to the first, full of Rasen grit, but clinical finishing by Paviors. Rasen were slow to react to an error at a Paviors lineout, but the home side had too much time to regain control of the ball and then push it wide for Molyneux to score in the corner, quickly followed by George Billam’s excellent touchline conversion. Another fine display of South Sea Island broken field running resulted in Veilawa grabbing his second try before the Rasen defence totally switched off. Portly prop Steve Allen could hardly believe his luck as he lumbered over the line unopposed from twenty metres out to present George Billam with another simple conversion. Five minutes later Ratcliffe was causing havoc with his direct running and looked on course for his second score, but a last-ditch tackle halted him short of the line. As he went down he flung the ball back and George Billam seemed to have overran it, but miraculously clung onto it from behind his back to crash over under the posts, again leaving himself with a regulation conversion. Just as in the first half, a twenty-minute blitz of scoring was followed by an evenly contested final twenty minutes. With three scrumhalves already on the pitch, coach Rhuari Pike was left with a final conundrum when injury required a rather reluctant fourth, Will Fenwick, a little the worse for wear from his previous night’s imbibing, to join the fray. Fenwick slotted in at nine, forcing Jack Noquet to disappear to fullback whilst Chris Everton and Mike Starling remained at flyhalf and wing respectively. Rasen continued to battle gamely to the end, but it was Paviors who mustered one final score when flanker Chris Tipton’s reach was just long enough to deposit the ball over the line after a determined run. Doug Billam took over the kicking duties from his injury departed sibling to finish the scoring with the final conversion of the game.
The odds had been stacked against Rasen from the outset with only seventeen players suitable for first team duties available, some of whom had little or no Midlands One experience. Those players stood up to the challenge and although they were outclassed by a better side, particularly in the backline, they didn’t take a backward step and gave their all for the Rasen cause. It would have been easy for them to capitulate, but in a difficult season it was heartening to see the approach they adopted and they should all be commended for their efforts, albeit in unfamiliar jerseys courtesy of Tom Stephens’ memory lapse!
Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Ashton, Mills, Benson, Norton J, Chamberlin, Scupham, Noquet, Everton C, Pridgeon, Norton F, Lawton, Cooper, Stephens
Subs: Starling M (Norton F), Fenwick (Norton F)
Paviors: Allen, Wells, Stirling, Hanson, Crossland, Tipton, Flanagan, Hall, Green, Billam G, Ratcliffe, Billam D, Veilawa, Barton, Molyneux
Subs: Graham, Collier, Barrett
Next week Rasen return to Willingham Road to face Peterborough for a 2-15 kick off.
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