Sat 20 Jan 2018
In Rasen’s parlous position, a trip to league leaders Syston who had only lost one game this season looked like another mission impossible. The score line reflected Syston’s superiority, but the men in red and green battled hard and special mention should be made for those team members who snubbed the comfort of their sick beds to help the Rasen cause. After a bright start from the visitors, Syston struck with a training ground move that brought Sam Reid from his blindside wing to score in the opposite corner. Fly half Alex White added the conversion and from then on Rasen were fighting a rear-guard action. On loan fullback Ian Smith joined the line to create a two on one for White to grab his second try. Whilst Rasen were largely consigned to defensive duties, they worked hard to keep their illustrious opponents at bay, frequently forcing errors and it was another fifteen minutes before Syston could increase their lead. A quick tap penalty from scrumhalf Alex Cavner caught Rasen flat footed before play was taken on by the silky running of Smith who put centre James Rudkin in for the score. White maintained his hundred percent record with his third conversion and whilst Syston had a comfortable 21 – 0 lead with twenty-eight minutes gone, it wasn’t the stroll in the park that they may have envisaged. Rasen’s inability to find touch gave Syston more opportunities to counter-attack and Jack Chantrell made the visitors pay for their inaccuracy. Fielding a missed touch find, the winger shredded the red and green defence before offloading for Cavner to secure the try bonus point. With the half drawing to a close there was a flash point when Rasen’s Matt Ashton was adjudged to have made a late tackle. Cavner took exception to this and was the catalyst for a minor fracas involving several players from both sides. When the hiatus had died down, the referee issued Ashton and Cavner with yellow cards to give them time to cool down on the touchline. From the resulting penalty Syston opted for a touch kick that was quickly followed with a catch and drive from the lineout for the forwards to rumble over the whitewash with number eight Joe Knowles-Lorriman dotting down. Having missed the previous conversion, White rediscovered his form to add the extras and leave his side with a comfortable 33 – 0 margin at the interval.
In difficult circumstances, Rasen had put in a hard shift in the first half, but they totally switched off at the start of the second as Rudkin split the defence wide open with a run up the centre of the park with Rasen hanging off the tackle to allow him to touchdown under the posts unimpeded. White added the simple conversion and a landslide looked on the cards, but this lapse in concentration was to be momentary as Rasen dug in and returned to the defiant mode that had frustrated Syston in the first half. With twenty minutes gone Rasen retreated back into missed touch syndrome and Syston were mightily relieved as they had been unable to penetrate the red and green dogged defending. The loose kick was fielded and quickly moved to the opposite side of the pitch where Rudkin broke up the touchline before popping the ball back inside for Cavner to add to his tally. White landed the conversion and Syston were soon back deep in Rasen’s twenty-two. The red and green’s continued to offer stout resistance, but number eight Ben Chamberlin was deemed to have halted Syston’s progress illegally and earned himself a yellow card. Syston again opted for the touch kick followed by a catch and drive, but Rasen’s stoic defence forced them to lose the ball forward and the visitors solid scrum was able to win possession to effect the clearance. Undermanned Rasen held out until six minutes into Chamberlin’s exile, tiredness began to take its toll and substitute George Newton ran through the midfield defence to score under the posts. White’s metronomic boot added the extras and with fatigue really biting, Rasen were caught out again from a quick tap penalty when Smith’s running proved irresistible as the fullback crossed for the final score of the game.
Rasen: Starling C, Ashton, Southwell, Crowe, Benson, Wallis, Mills, Chamberlin, Noquet, Everton C, Stephens W, Lawton, Goodwin, Cooper, Pridgeon
Subs: Hill (Crowe), Janney (Cooper)
Syston: Kilby, Lockington, Jones, Clay, Chapman, Ferguson, Edmunds, Knowles-Lorriman, Cavner, White, Reid, Williams, Rudkin, Chantrell, Smith
Subs: Nockles, Newton, Keyworth
Next week Rasen return to Willingham Road to face second placed Bedford Athletic for a 2.15 kick off.
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