The Red and Greens built on last week’s performance at Bedford to take maximum points against Bugbrooke in their penultimate home game of the season.
The late bonus point try proved to be crucial with relegation rivals Newark pulling off a last-gasp win with the final kick of their game. Rasen remain 11th in Midlands One East, four points above third-bottom Newark.
Rasen made a dream start when Bugbrooke attempted to spread the play wide in their first attack, but Jake Goodison’s alert anticipation snaffled an interception. Bugbrooke’s Adam Pepper was in hot pursuit and caught the Rasen man just short of the line, but Goodison skilfully popped the ball back inside to Greg Wise and the young Canadian opened the scoring.
Goodison slotted a penalty eight minutes later as the strong running of centre Scott Brown caused panic in the Bugbrooke defence.
A knock-on denied another potential try, but the Red and Greens were quick to atone for this error as Rasen’s powerful eight took the ensuing scrum against the head to pave the way for Brown to power his way over. Goodison added the conversion.
The hosts continued to ramp up the pressure as they took a lineout to set up another attack. Hard working lock Chris Mills punched the first hole before Dave Starling burst through with a trademark run.
Desperate defence hauled him down short of the line, but Jake Pryer was there to gather Starling’s popped pass and cross the whitewash for Rasen’s third try.
Any thoughts of an easy ride were dispelled when fly-half Henry Pooler threaded a well-judged grubber kick behind the oncoming Rasen defence for centre Mark Tompkins to gather and dive over after half-an-hour.
Fellow centre Adrian Flynn added a well-struck conversion from wide out.
The momentum had changed and Flynn added a penalty on the stroke of half-time to leave his side 20-10 adrift.
Bugbrooke made the early running in the second half buoyed by their two late scores, despite conceding an early penalty which Goodison was unable to convert.
After two dangerous runs from Pepper, the Bugbrooke resurgence began to wane as Rasen began to work their way back into the game.
Much of the half was played in the central third of the field, but Rasen continued to press and eventually worked their way into Bugbrooke’s 22 to be awarded a penalty with five minutes left.
Inexplicably Rasen opted to take a kick at goal despite Ollie Cole’s exhortations from the touchline. Goodison made no mistake with the kick, but would Rasen live to regret the extra three points at the expense of a possible bonus point try?
Time was ebbing away, but Rasen’s confidence wasn’t and they were soon back in Bugbrooke’s 22 forcing another penalty in a similar position.
The ball was drilled into touch with urgency this time. The Rasen lineout had spluttered on occasions throughout the match, but the side were now completely focussed.
The initial catch and drive was met with stout resistance, but Rasen remained patient, controlling the ball and peeling off to set up another drive.
With the line edging closer, the ball was flicked out to substitute centre Rob Batterbury who powered his way over for the all-important fourth try. Goodison’s conversion was the last kick of the match and Rasen had accomplished their target.
Rasen: C. Starling, Seward, Cole (Haig), Mills, Chamberlin, L. Dearden, Pryer, D. Starling, M. Starling, Goodison, Gutteridge, Brown, Beasley (Batterbury), Wise (Stephens), Norman.
* On Saturday, Rasen begin the first of three successive away matches at second-placed Derby who had a narrow win at Kettering last weekend. Kick-off 2.15pm.