Market Rasen Seconds Edge Win Over Newark Seconds in Hard-fought Friendly
By DAVID GODFREY
Newark Seconds 35, Market Rasen Seconds 39
Spectators at Kelham Road were treated to a breathless display of physical, end-to-end rugby yesterday as Lincolnshire rivals Market Rasen edged a narrow victory over a gritty Newark Seconds.
Rasen opened up the scoresheet from the back of a scrum in the opening minutes of the match, using their impressive armoury of strike runners to punch holes through the Newark defence, before picking a good line to crash through and touch down on the left - 0-7.
Newark, however, gave the visitors no chance to settle in, after a Rasen knock-on and scrum in Newark's own half gave Matt Cox space to launch an attack, shipping a well-timed pass to colt James Harding who showed blistering pace in outstripping defenders to score near the posts - 7-7 (conv. Cox).
With honours even during the opening exchanges, Rasen ratcheted up the pressure over the next 15 minutes, with play rarely leaving the Newark half, and came close to breaching a stubborn Newark line on several occasions.
They were let down however by a persistent penalty count, giving Cox the opportunity to clear the lines on each occasion and provide breathing space for the beleaguered defenders, and it was Newark who would claim the next score after a crunching clear out at the ruck gave scrum-half Matt Walton (who looked sharp throughout) the chance to spin the ball out to Nick Moore, who defeated several defenders to pile over by the posts - 14-7 (conv. Cox).
Despite this, the rest of the first half was all Market Rasen's, with a stretched Newark struggling to contain Rasen's powerful strike runners, and missed tackles overwhelming a scrambling defence. By the break, the visitors had scored three further tries, with one conversion and the outcome was looking ominous for the home side, despite a break-out from Matt Cox, who couldn't quite get a clean pass away to his support after a lung-busting run up two thirds of the pitch - 14-24.
Newark needed to get hold of the game quickly in the second half, and showed intent from the outset, forcing a scrum immediately after the restart and following it up with a great team try finished off by Tom Lee (playing hooker) on the back of some excellent recycling by the forwards and quick hands from Cox and Harding - 21-24 (conv. Cox).
And with momentum behind them, they came again from the restart, with colt Toby Taylor sprinting up the wing before shipping the ball to Harding to wrong-foot the defence and finish the move by the posts - 28-24 (conv. Cox).
With Newark in full cry, Rasen dug deep and forced the home side onto the back foot once more, slogging their way up the pitch in the forwards and almost going over between the posts before being knocked back over the line. And when colt Danny Walker, otherwise good value on his debut appearance for the 2nds, was unlucky enough to be carded for killing the ball, the visitors managed to bully their way over on the left to take another 5 points. Five minutes later, with Newark still reeling and despite some superb last ditch tackling by Toby Taylor, they went over again - 28-39.
With the minutes ticking by, it was Newark's turn to go on the offensive, and a fine solo try from James Harding running through a disorganised Rasen defence gave them a 7-pointer to put them within spitting distance of going ahead. Rasen will certainly have breathed a sigh of relief to hear the final whistle after just managing to blunt a flowing whole team move from Newark in the dying seconds of the game - final score 35-39.
Newark will have been disappointed to lose this one in the event, but this was an excellent all-round performance from the whole squad played out with grit and determination against a powerful Rasen side. Set pieces were competent, with Jed Chapple and Akash Bagga providing some much-needed skill in the lineout; the back-row trio of Godfrey, Jackson and Witton tackled whatever came their way and carried hard alongside Matt Gibson and Lee Gillatt; Matts Cox and Walton were intelligent in their distribution and kicking when in possession; James Matthysz was good on the wing and even better when he switched to centre; and the colts James Harding, Toby Taylor and latterly Dan Walker looked in their element.
Next up - Dinnington away (Friendly).
Tries: James Harding (3), Nick Moore, Tom Lee
Conversions: Matt Cox (5)