Sat 13 Jan 2018, 14:15
A spate of injuries forced Rasen into several changes from the previous week and brought the number of players used for first team duty this season up to thirty-seven. The red and greens took some time to settle with the lack of familiarity within the side and Peterborough took full advantage with a scoring blitz in the first half, but the second was a totally different story. Peterborough began the game confidently and within five minutes had the added bonus of a man advantage when Rasen’s Josh Lawton was sinbinned for a high tackle. The visitors looked to turn the screw and from a lineout peel following a penalty, prop Stuart Day drove over the line for the opening score. A botched restart not travelling ten metres, a failing that would recur at the next two restarts, gave the initiative back to Peterborough who worked their way back upfield before an inside pop pass opened up the defence for flanker Luke Smedley to canter in under the posts. Fullback Byron van Uden landed the conversion and was lining up his next kick two minutes later after Michael Bean shredded the home defence to put his centre partner Tom Williams in beneath the uprights. The conversion was successful and van Uden had found the groove that resulted in him successfully converting all the tries that followed. After three scores in Lawton’s absence, Peterborough remained firmly on the front foot and when a chip over was gathered, Bean ran in to secure the try bonus point with only twenty-one minutes elapsed. Rasen were caught napping when Peterborough took a quick lineout to maintain their high tempo and strong running from Bean aided by some lacklustre tackling ended with the centre grabbing his second try. Eventually Rasen found some of the spirit that had been in abundance at Paviors and Peterborough were having to work harder for their rewards until the red and greens seemed mesmerized as flyhalf Joseph Andresen ran crossfield with barely a hand laid on him to ghost in at the corner. With his toughest kick of the day van Uden nailed the touchline conversion to give his side a commanding 40 – 0 lead at the interval.
Eyeing the comfortable score line Peterborough’s Southern Hemisphere player coach, Nico Steenkamp, opted to bring himself off the bench to join the fun in the second half, but as the game progressed it wasn’t as easy as he had clearly anticipated. Peterborough opened with the now familiar sight of Bean tormenting the home defence with his strong running. Lock Robert Linnell was in close support, but was hauled down just short of the line before Peterborough’s forwards recycled and drove over the line for the half’s opening score, converted by van Uden. Business as usual must have been the visitors’ thought with only five minutes of the half played, but a combination of inaccuracies in their own play and some stoic defending from the men in red and green ensured that Peterborough wouldn’t add to their forty-seven points. Rasen’s set piece had been a shining beacon and now the forwards ramped up their game as they drove upfield to threaten Peterborough’s defence. On a hitherto rare incursion into Peterborough’s twenty-two, the visitors could only prevent the red and green progress through foul measures that resulted in Smedley receiving a yellow card. A lineout catch and drive from the resultant penalty took play infield, but Chris Everton spotted a deficiency on the blindside and called for scrumhalf Jack Noquet to switch the direction of play. Alert to his flyhalf’s request, the ball was delivered into Everton’s hands for him to skirt around the defence and imperiously dot the ball down in the corner. This had clearly rattled Peterborough as five minutes later Williams joined his teammate on the touchline to temporarily reduce his side to thirteen with their second yellow card. Adrenaline was now pumping at full tilt through the Rasen veins as they took full advantage of another penalty. The lineout catch and drive routine worked like clockwork as number eight Dave Starling peeled off and powered his way over the whitewash. Hooker Tom Alldridge added the conversion and Rasen had salvaged some pride. With parity restored in terms of manpower, the final quarter ended in stalemate with neither side able to add to their score.
A slow start cost Rasen dearly, but with the changes including debutant Will Stephens who had played little rugby at any level this season, but acquitted himself well throughout the game, and centre Harry Wallis gamely filling in on the flank, it was no surprise that the team took time to gel. Despite the changes the set piece held firm where the forwards performed with credit and the backs showed glimpses of their attacking prowess, if only they could have clung onto the ball when gaps had been created. Winning the second half was a testimony to the application and spirit of the players, but the first half deficit was too big an obstacle to clawback.
Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Southwell, Crowe, Benson, Norton J, Wallis, Starling D, Noquet, Everton C, Stephens W, Lawton, Goodwin, Pridgeon, Stephens T
Subs: Hill (Crowe), Mills (not used)
Peterborough: Cowell, Throne, Day, Mills, Linnell, Smedley, McClure, Pretorius, Borkett, Andresen, Anderson, Williams, Bean, Tshepo-Olebile, van Uden
Subs: Steenkamp, Mould, Downer
It doesn’t get any easier next week when Rasen travel to league leaders, Syston for a 2.15 pm kick off.
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