Sat 17 Mar 2018, 14:15
The red and greens battled through blizzards in the early part of the journey on their trip to Kettering before arriving at a ground showing little signs of the Beast from the East II other than a bitingly cold Arctic blast that left some players with an almost permanently frozen grimace on their faces by the time the game had finished. Rasen brought some warmth to the travelling supporters with an opening salvo that ended with veteran number eight Ben Chamberlin charging up the centre of the field to run in under the posts. Chris Everton added the conversion to give the visitors an unlikely 7 – 0 lead after only two minutes. The joy was short lived as Kettering got into gear with a counter attack ending with winger Chester Hilson opening their account and fullback Joe Daniel’s conversion drawing the sides level six minutes later. Kettering quickly followed this up with two tries from their forwards, the first following a quick tap from hooker Steve Fraher who powered his way over the line and the second from a concerted drive finished by lock Tim Bayes. With Kettering almost monopolising possession Rasen were forced into a rear-guard action and managed to keep their hosts at bay until number eight George Newman cut back inside and sliced through the defence to secure Kettering’s try bonus point. Daniel added the conversion and then three minutes later took advantage of some lacklustre defending to stroll over the whitewash before slotting another conversion. Kettering remained encamped in Rasen territory for the rest of the half to add two further unconverted tries. A quick throw caught Rasen unawares and the ball was popped back to Fraher for the hooker to bag a second. Fly half Harry Owens chipped through to gather his own kick for the final score of the half to leave Kettering with a commanding 41 -7 lead.
There was barely time to take breath at the interval as the players and referee were keen to get back into the action to avoid any threat of hypothermia. Kettering carried on where they had left off with Owens making a break before popping the ball up for prop Brett Sturgess to force his way over the line. Daniel extended the lead with another successful conversion before Rasen’s task was made harder by some over zealous officiating that ended with centre Fred Norton receiving a harsh yellow card. Kettering mercilessly took full advantage of their numerical superiority to spread the ball wide for Hilson to outflank the flagging defence to add to his personal tally. Rasen dug in with some dogged defending, epitomised by prop Matt Ashton’s dynamic tackling, and managed to keep Kettering at bay for the remainder of Norton’s enforced absence. Unfortunately, when Rasen were restored to full strength Kettering upped their game, taking the ball blind from a set scrum for Daniel to join the line and cut through for his second try of the match. Rasen continued to battle away for little reward and were forced to retreat when a Kettering counterattack put centre Ryan Conyard into space. With only Rasen fullback Tom Stephens between himself and glory, Conyard opted to take the Rasen man on, but was felled by a textbook tackle. Sadly, Stephens pride turned to dismay as Conyard was able to offload for the supporting Newman to canter in for his second try. Owens took over the kicking duties to slot the conversion. Rasen substitute Will Pridgeon had barely been on the field before his loose tongue incurred the referee’s ire and he was dismissed back to the touchline with a yellow card. Quick tap expert, Fraher was soon on hand to punish Rasen to secure his hat trick. Rasen gained a little consolation when a Kettering mix up ended with the ball going loose for Simon Cooper to scoop up to speed in under the posts. The players only thoughts now were to get into the warm haven of the clubhouse, so Cooper was instructed to take his own conversion, which he did with aplomb from an expertly struck drop kick. There was still time for Conyard to get his name on the scoresheet before the referee brought the game to a halt and the grateful players headed in to thaw out.
No one could argue that Kettering were good value for their win, but the skewed penalty count where only one went in favour of the visitors in the whole match did little for Rasen’s fragile morale. The match day squad deserve some credit for sticking to their task after travelling through tricky conditions to face a side that has only lost four times this season and then play in cryotherapy unit temperatures before facing another daunting trip home. Despite the result there was still room for smiles at the end of the game showing that the squad is developing some camaraderie or was it the temperature that had frozen the grins on their faces?!
Rasen: Ashton, Scupham, Southwell, Crowe, Benson, Norton J, Janney, Chamberlin, Fenwick, Everton C, Stephens W, Norton F, Pryer, Cooper, Stephens T
Subs: Grant (Janney), Hill (Ashton), Pridgeon (Stephens W)
Kettering: Sturgess, Fraher, Martin D, Wilson, Bayes, Bayley, McCann, Newman, Stables, Owens, Luthayi, Neild, Conyard, Hilson, Daniel
Subs: Watson, Edwards, Martin M
Next week Rasen travel to Wellingborough, who are finding a bit of form in their quest to remain in the division after being thrown a lifeline after they had occupied the third relegation spot last season. Kick off is 3 o’clock and hopefully it will be a bit warmer!!
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