Sat 10 Mar 2018, 14:15
After a two-week layoff the red and greens returned to action and suffered further disruption when the health and safety brigade deemed the first team pitch unsuitable due to water laying on patches of the ground. Despite the best efforts of the players who interrupted their pre-match preparations to shift the water, the game was shifted to the smaller sloping pitch at neighbouring De Aston school. Rasen opted to play up the slope in the first half, but were slow to get into the game as Leighton Buzzard ran in four tries in an eleven-minute scoring spree. From a lineout following a penalty, Leighton Buzzard brought fullback Ben Beaumont into the line where his strong running cut through the diaphanous midfield defence that was AWOL for most of the game. Faced with the last line of Rasen’s meagre defence, he popped the ball to supporting centre Michael Robert for the opening score after eleven minutes. Winger Oliver Taylor added the conversion and two minutes later the kicker was lining up his next conversion attempt. From the restart Rasen progressed well upfield, but turned over the ball, which was to become a regular occurrence in the first half. Leighton Buzzard counter attacked to spread the ball wide for Taylor to score wide out. Four minutes later Taylor doubled his try tally following a break from fly half Jack Whitehouse aided by some more feeble defending. Rasen were now literally facing an uphill battle as the visitors were taking control. From another attack Rasen managed to prevent the score, but conceded a five-metre scrum and were then penalised at the set piece. Rasen were then caught napping when flanker Daniel Baroux took a quick tap and powered his way over the whitewash to claim the try bonus point with the first quarter barely finished. Rasen slowly began to wake from their slumber, but continued to make unforced errors. The Buzzards capitalised on this again when Rasen lost possession and another counter attack ended with Robert strolling to the line to grab his second try. Taylor added the conversion before Rasen had their best spell of the first half. Sweeping the ball across the field, winger Simon Cooper had a bit of space to use, but was shut down and bundled into touch. However, Rasen kept up the pressure as the forwards battled their way towards the line, forcing Leighton Buzzard to concede a penalty. This time it was the visitors turn to be caught on the hop as a quick tap ended with birthday boy, Pete Southwell forcing his way over the line. Tom Alldridge added the conversion and Rasen looked to going into half time on the back of a much-needed boost. Unfortunately, concentration levels slipped back again when another Rasen turnover enabled Leighton Buzzard to counter attack from their own twenty-two. The red and green scrambling defence was in total disarray as Robert cantered to the line to complete his hat trick. Taylor slotted the conversion to leave Leighton Buzzard with a comfortable 36 – 7 lead at the interval.
Playing down the slope, Rasen began the second half with purpose as the visitors were put under pressure to concede a flurry of penalties without any sign of a yellow card for persistent infringement. A clever switch of play from fly half Chris Everton opened up some space as the ball was flung wide for winger Will Stephens to score a well-constructed try. Alldridge added the conversion, but Rasen then returned to their first half malady albeit assisted by the referee to some degree. Rasen failed to gather the restart and knocked on, but a second nudge forward by Leighton Buzzard went undetected before Owen Forsythe gathered the ball to make a bee line for the posts. The token Rasen chase did nothing to hinder the lock’s progress as he dotted down under the uprights to leave an easy conversion for Taylor. Remarkably, this was to be the visitors last score with thirty minutes of the game remaining as Rasen became more patient and cut down the error count. At last Rasen produced some of their usual effective forward driving game to heap pressure on the Leighton Buzzard defence. As the men in red and green battered away, the visitors continued to concede penalties culminating in a yellow card for prop Michael Lynch. The Buzzards hadn’t learned their lesson and from the next Rasen drive conceded another penalty, which the referee turned into a penalty try. Rasen continued their onslaught and from another penalty, the red and greens worked their catch and drive routine for Alldridge to cross the line and secure a try bonus point. Rasen worked hard in the remaining eight minutes, but couldn’t add to their tally.
This result has mathematically confirmed relegation, although the club has been resigned to this for some time. Rasen paid the price for a slow start and the abundance of unforced errors against an unexceptional side that took their chances well. The second half was much better as the team tightened up and played to its strengths, but it was too little, too late.
Rasen: Starling C, Alldridge, Southwell, Crowe, Benson, Norton J, Chamberlin, Pryer, Noquet, Everton C, Stephens W, Norton F, Pridgeon, Cooper, Nicholls
Subs: Ashton (Southwell), Scupham (Crowe), Lawton (Norton F)
Leighton Buzzard: Lynch, Walsh, Hastings, Forsythe, Barker, Baroux, Payne, Murtagh, Brett, Whitehouse, Braybrook, Robert, Perry, Taylor, Beaumont
Subs: Johnson, Ward, Quail
Next week Rasen travel to Kettering for last week’s snow postponed game with a 3.00 pm kick off.
Travelling supporters should note that Kettering charge an entry fee.