Sat 27 Jan 2018, 14:15
There was some trepidation in the red and green ranks for the visit of Bedford Athletic as the East Midlands side had inflicted the club’s record league defeat of 104 – 0 in the away fixture, but this Rasen side is now developing some character and gave their best against a superior side. Rasen made a bright start with centre Josh Lawton punching a hole through the Bedford defence to earn a penalty in the second minute. Hooker Tom Alldridge strode up to give Rasen an unlikely lead, but this was short lived when centre Harry Sawford -Smith opened Bedford’s account with a try after lock Tom Rees had burst through the middle of the home defence. Bedford were slowly getting the upper hand, but it was a further twelve minutes before they struck again when scrumhalf Tom Orton finished off a move resulting from Bedford’s impressive continuity. This launched a scoring spree as Bedford added a further four tries in the next twelve minutes. Rasen were building an attack, but turned over the ball and then couldn’t resist the strong running of Sawford-Smith who seemed to have been held, but broke free to score under the posts. Slick handling in difficult conditions outflanked the Rasen defence to give Joshua Cassell a clear run to the line and the winger’s pace then enabled him to angle round under the posts. Stephen Woodhead emulated his fellow winger when Orton took the ball blind from a set scrum to put him away for a long run to the line. Bedford were too quick for Rasen when good handling and support play ended with flanker James Wallace adding his name to the score sheet. After a shaky start fly half James Mortimer, who had been imperious on his home turf, found his kicking range to successfully convert all of the tries in this scoring frenzy to give Bedford a healthy 38 – 3 lead at the interval. Rasen’s best attack of the half had come from a break out where Chris Starling’s quick sleight of hand had put fellow prop Matt Ashton through a gap. Ashton galloped up field like a rampaging bull, but showed some finesse with a cheeky dummy that would have brought pride to any member of the backline. Alas the move broke down as had been the case with a number of home attacks, but the men in red and green were still playing with spirit despite the mounting score line.
Rasen made a promising start to the second half as they went on the offensive to build pressure by working through the phases. This all came to nought when the curse of the turnover reappeared with Bedford mercilessly punishing the error, turning defence into attack for Woodhead to add to his tally. Bedford repeated the punishment eight minutes later when another Rasen attack was turned over for the visitors’ efficient handling and support to put Wallace in the clear, but the flanker unselfishly popped the ball back inside for Woodhead to complete his hat trick, much to the mock ire of his opposite wing, Cassell. From the restart Bedford showed their full capabilities as they ran the ball back with pace and precision that shredded the Rasen defence for Cassell to double his contribution with a try in the corner. Rasen continued to battle away and enjoyed brief moments of hope, only for them to be snuffed out by Bedford’s effectiveness in defence. The red and green recurring nightmare made another unwanted manifestation in the twenty third minute when possession was lost again for Bedford to counterattack. The pacy Cassell took the opportunity to cross the whitewash for his own hat trick and banish the mock indignation he had shown when Woodhead reached his landmark score. Mortimer had converted two of the second half tries, giving Bedford a 62 – 3 advantage early in the final quarter. With the game sown up a long time ago, Bedford may have taken their foot off the gas, but Rasen were still trying their hardest to wring further consolation out of the match. This arrived in the thirty second minute when a sloppy midfield pass was poached by the lurking Lawton. The Rasen centre ran for the line to flop over under the posts with Bedford opting out of any pursuit, which was probably just as well as Lawton’s leaden legs appeared in no state for a serious foot race. The absence of a kicking tee meant that Alldridge’s attempted drop kick conversion slipped under the bar to leave Rasen short of double figures, but at the end when the final whistle sounded it was the performance that mattered more to Rasen than the losing margin.
Bedford were clearly the better side, but the score line does not reflect the full story of the game. Rasen were outclassed and a major difference between the sides was Bedford’s ability to punish Rasen’s propensity to turnover possession. However, the red and greens played with determination and enthusiasm, which must be difficult as the defeats keep racking up. The set scrum went well again and there were glimpses of promise from the backline, but defence is still a major flaw. The heavy pitch was a great leveller, but none-the-less this represented a significant improvement on the away fixture and the players can hold their heads high for the effort that they put in.
Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Ashton, Benson, Crowe, Norton J, Chamberlin, Mills, Fenwick, Everton C, Starling M, Lawton, Pridgeon, Stephens W, Cooper
Subs: Janney (Stephens), Scupham (Crowe)
Bedford Athletic: McCann, Walsh, Clarke, Meiland, Rees, Thomas, Wallace, Watkins, Orton, Mortimer, Cassell, Simpson, Sawford-Smith, Woodhead, Darlow
Subs: Taylor, Rogers, Duncan
Next week Rasen travel to Bugbrooke, who dropped into the relegation zone this week and will be looking to grab the points.
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