Stags headed North to the wilds of Lincolnshire looking to get a morale boosting win against the league’s bottom club, but made hard work of the eventual victory. Both sides cancelled each other out in the first half, with no scoring for the first half an hour, but Stags led at half time thanks to a converted try from Todd Arnold and a penalty from Tad Chapman. Stags scrum was solid all day against a Rasen pack depowered through injury, and there was effective line out play all game until skipper Doug Bentley had to go off with a shoulder injury, leaving just one recognised jumper. Roger Shakespeare took over the captaincy, and showed off his credentials, both on the pitch and also on the coach trip home.
This was the cue for Rasen to come back with their back three looking lively, scoring two unconverted tries. However Stags had managed to score to more tries through Ben Strangeways and Barney West, the latter after a break from the half way line. Chapman converted one, hit the post with another and scored another penalty for an 80% kicking success rate on the day.
But we were in for a big finale as with Jack Skidmore yellow carded for his second high tackle in as many minutes, Rasen scored two late tries, again both unconverted, despite Stags defence being generally resolute. But for a fantastic covering tackle by Chris Turley, and the Rasen kicker having left his kicking boots at home, the scoreline could have been much different. However there was relief and joy at the final whistle, not least from Arnold and Strangeways, who now avoid the traditional final training lap of the season.
Stags have played much better this season and lost, so the four league points gained should be the important take away, rather than the quality of the performance. That the right side won was not in doubt, but Rasen deserved their two league points, and we look forward to our paths crossing again in a couple of years time. Final Score Market Rasen & Louth 20 Stags 25.
Stags 2nd XV also travelled to Rasen with slightly less than a full compliment, but played a friendly with their opposite numbers having borrowed a few players. In a close game, Rasen ran out winners 13-7, but well done to co-captains Matt Murphy and Jack Burgess for rustling up a competitive team.
Updated 22:13 - 21 Mar 2018 by Sid Millar