Derby made a winning start to the defence of their NLD title in a tight encounter in the Wolds of Lincolnshire. Making 11 changes to the squad that beat Bournville in the previous outing man of the match Sam Pittman was the only forward to remain in the starting line-up whilst in the backs Josh Tizard remained at scrum-half, Sam Martin moved to 10 and Ollie Saffell at full back were the only other players to start in consecutive weeks. This was a young squad (notable exception Martin Kent!).
As it turned out Derby won this match in the first 20 minutes with 3 excellent tries but Market Rasen were far from beaten at that point and playing to their forward strength made the final hour difficult and frustrating for the Derby rookies.
Derby’s first try came after 6 minutes. It was Sam Martin who went over the line following some excellent Derby play. Derby worked the ball from just outside their own 22 and moved it wide with good hands through the half backs Tizard and Martin. Strong running from Culligan, Woods and Campbell took Derby to the Rasen goal line where Martin received the inside pass to go over for the score. Conversion missed. 5-0 to Derby.
5 minutes later and Derby extended their lead with another well worked try. Derby No. 8 Lee who impressed in the early stages with a number of carries broke free once again and his offload led to some strong running through the middle from Martin and Woods. Saffell and Campbell created the overlap but it was prop Ollie George that crossed the line with the ball in hand. Martin kicked the conversion. 12-0 to Derby.
Derby’s pace and intensity kept the Rasen team on the back foot as they found it difficult to get out of their own half. The third Derby try came with just twenty minutes on the clock. Derby won a lineout 15 metres from the opposition goal line. Quick ball and good hands through the backs moved the ball across the field enabling George Campbell to touch down smartly in the corner. Conversion missed. 17-0 to Derby.
Surely more Derby tries were to follow and they did have other chances to score but inexperience and good Rasen defending forced the youngsters to rush their attacks leading to errors. As the half progressed the home side started to get a foothold in the game and it was their experienced pack that provided the platform for their revival. On 33 minutes after some excellent forward pressure the Market Rasen inside centre Dearden collected the ball as the supporting runner to make the Lincolnshire sides first score. Conversion missed 17-5 to Derby. That is how the score remained until half-time.
Derby made just one change at the interval. George Campbell was replaced on the wing by new signing Malvin Mazorodze. The Zimbabwean had completed his transfer from Long Eaton RFC just 24 hours earlier and the travelling faithful were eager to see what he could bring to the team.
Market Rasen started the second half in similar fashion to how they had ended the first period with their forwards dominating possession particularly in the set piece. Derby struggled to get any good ball but did defend resolutely with much of the game being played out in the middle portion of the pitch. 10 minutes into the half Derby introduced Club Captain Martin Kent at loosehead to add some solidity in the scrum. However, continued Market Rasen pressure broke the Derby defence in the 60th minute. A missed tackle midway in the Derby half enabled the home team to move forward at pace, the ball found its way to the outside centre Pridgeon on the loop and with the Derby defence stretched he was able to score wide on the right. Conversion missed 17-10 to Derby. Game on!
On 65 minutes Mazorodze had to leave the field with a neck injury having had just one chance to carry on his debut. This was a reflection of Derby’s growing inability to play to their strengths rather than the opposition’s. Campbell returned to the wing but saw little of the ball. Brentnall replaced Lee and Derby played out the final 15 minutes defending well but offering limited attacking opportunities. The final whistle brought a sigh of relief for the coaching team and travelling faithful. This was a good result from a young team. Lots to work on but plenty to be proud about. Come on Derby!
Squad: Parkinson J, Thompson S, George O, Donnelly C, Moloney L, Pearson J, Pittman S, Lee B, Tizard J, Martin S, Campbell G, Culligan P, Woods D, Roome J, Saffell O. Reps: Kent M, Brentnall J, Mazorodze M.
Tries: Martin, George, Campbell.
Cons: Martin (1).
Match Report by Phil Jepson