• Bristol 50 Richmond 5

    Bristol 50   Richmond 5

    Facing what is likely to be their toughest fixture of the season, Richmond put on a resilient and determined performance, which was not fully reflected in the final score. Bristol are clear favourites for the one promotion spot, having assembled an impressive and expensive squad of Premiership quality.  However it was only their well drilled driving maul from the line out, which fully separated the two sides, hooker Max Crumpton claiming a remarkable four tries from the back of the maul.

    Richmond made four changes to the previous week’s team, Jamie Gibbs, Joe Tarrant and Alex Humfrey all starting and newcomer Jamie Townsend (ex Chinnor) on the bench. Showing the depth of their squad, Bristol made eleven changes, starting with five internationals under Captain Jordan Crane, ex Leicester.

    On a sunny afternoon, Bristol came out with clear intent to play a running game on the semi artificial pitch. Bristol had plenty of early ball and looked likely to score after just three minutes, when a Rob Kirby clearance kick was charged down. When the ball was spread to the wide left, Samoan winger David Lemi looked clear on the outside but Jono Woodward did very well to push him out in the corner.

    The next chance came to Richmond, when they were awarded a penalty a long way out on the far right touchline. Kirby’s kick went narrowly wide and proved to be his only opportunity of the afternoon. Richmond competed well in the line out, Jason Phipps’ accurate throwing being consistently claimed by Humfrey, Will Warden and Chris Davies.  In the scrum, Richmond held firm under pressure, though the back row had little ‘go forward’ ball. However, the home defence was uncompromising and the visitors were regularly forced to kick back precious possession.

    Despite a resultant monopoly of ball, Bristol were constantly harried into error by committed tackling. With Woodward, Warden, Jack Allcock and Phipps prominent in defensive duties, there was a mounting sense of frustration among the crowd as the score remained 0-0 after half an hour. A five metre line out was the best opportunity but the ball was overthrown and Richmond cleared. However, in the 37th minute, the first score was finally claimed. From a scrum on half way, the visitors got rare good ball and tried to move it wide at pace. Unfortunately the final pass to Woodward was overthrown and, forced back in desperate defence, Richmond were pinged under the posts. Fly half Billy Searle made no mistake.

    As so often happens, two more tries now followed in quick succession. First, Bristol claimed the kick off ball and centre Jack Tovey made a powerful break to half way. Allcock covered back with an excellent tackle but, with the ball loose, scrum half Rhodri Williams spotted a gap and sped forty metres to the posts, Searle converting. Then, in the final play of the half, a high tackle cost Richmond a penalty and Searle kicked to twenty metres. Under the new laws, time is allowed for both penalty and line out and Bristol took full advantage, the pack driving ominously over, Crumpton the scorer, Searle the goal kicker and the score at half time suddenly 17-0.

    With confidence now established, Bristol scored their third try after just two minutes into the second half. Williams made the key break, slipping unobserved from a maul and haring to the 22 before the visitors conceded a penalty. Searle kicked for the corner and the pack rumbled over from five metres. Richmond now enjoyed some time in the home 22 but, despite the best efforts of the outstanding Chris Davies and Ronnie McLean-Dents, they could not convert their chances.

    Bristol had no such problems and now scored a brace of converted tries just before the hour. The first was a trademark forward effort, Crumpton the scorer, and the second by Williams backed up a strong run down the right by Wallabies winger Luke Morahan.  The substitutes now entered the fray, Bristol introducing Irish international Ian Madigan and Northampton favourite Soane Tonga’uiha. Townsend replaced Phipps and played with promise.

    The next score had unfortunate origins, a loose kick putting Richmond offside and setting up prime position for Crumpton to get his fourth try. It would have been very unfortunate if Richmond had not scored at all and the deserved try finally came in the 75th minute. The lively Luc Jones tapped a penalty, made good yards and found McLean-Dents on his shoulder. Luke Parker retained the momentum and when the ball came out to the right, Jordan Simpson-Hefft had a run for the corner. The winger had plenty to do and did well to batter forward and get the ball down. Right at the end, Bristol got their fifth second half try, courtesy of a superbly timed and angled run from Dan Thomas, converted by the reliable Searle.

    Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented; ‘The score does not reflect the huge amount of effort and work rate the Richmond team put in this afternoon. To be only three nil down after 37 minutes was impressive against such a strong outfit. The hits by Warden and Humfrey were impressive, whilst the defensive work of McLean-Dents, Mitchell and Woodward was relentless. The second half showed the pace and size Bristol have at their disposal.’

    Tries: Simpson-Hefft
    Team:R.Kirby(B.Rath), J.Woodward, C.Mitchell, R.McLean-Dents, J.Simpson-Hefft, F.Gabbitass, J.Gibbs(L.Jones), J.Cunnew (W.Goodrick-Clarke), J.Phipps ( J.Townsend), J.Tarrant (C.Trenier), W.Warden (T.Sargeant), A.Humfrey, J.Liston ( J.Parker), J.Allcock, C.Davies.

  • Richmond 23 Jersey Reds 14

    Richmond 23  Jersey Reds 14

    Roared on by an approving crowd, Richmond tackled their hearts out to earn a tense first win of the season against what must have been one of the biggest sides ever to visit the Athletic Ground. The four points earned should provide welcome confidence for the important trip to Rotherham next week.

    Martin Freeman was given a starting place on the wing in a side which otherwise closely resembled the line up which ran Ealing close in the last home game. On the bench some excellent performances in the Vikings earned Toby Saysell his first team debut on the flank.  The Reds have had to replace most of last year’s pack, who have been snapped up by Premiership or wealthier Championship sides. This is a tribute to the player development and coaching at Jersey. A key ingredient in identifying replacements has clearly been bulk.

    The visitors showed no signs of travel sickness as they dominated the first ten minutes.  Jerry Sexton was the first Goliath to break the defensive line and, when he was eventually hauled down, Richmond were penalised at the tackle. This enabled Jersey to set up camp deep in the 22 and six penalties in the next ten minutes clearly built the pressure. With Richmond on a final warning, Jersey’s crooked line out throw provided invaluable breathing space, closely followed by a home scrum penalty.

    Richmond’s first venture into opposition territory followed in the eleventh minute, courtesy of Rob Kirby’s boot. Moments later, an excellent backs move almost broke the deadlock, Kirby looping outside to take a neat pass from Jono Woodward before finding Ronnie McLean-Dents inside, the centre stopped just short. However Cameron Mitchell was hurt in the move and forced off the field, Woodward moving to centre and being replaced by Jordan Simpson-Hefft on the wing. Woodward went on to play an outstanding game in attack and defence and must have been everybody’s choice as Richmond’s Man of the Match.

    After twenty minutes, the home side suffered a second blow when Jack Allcock clashed heads with Jeremy Cunnew  and departed the field to be replaced by Saysell. In the next minute, Simpson-Hefft intercepted a loose Jersey pass and kicked ahead, the Reds’ defence just able to cover in time.  The game continued to ebb and flow as the visitors used their huge forwards to batter up the field. However it was Richmond who got the first score.  Awarded a half way penalty, Kirby found a very good touch fifteen metres out. The pack built momentum from the line out and trundled forward, being stopped just short of the line. Cunnew was nearly over but the ball was recycled and the alert Luc Jones sniped over to earn his side the lead, Kirby adding a top class conversion in another immaculate kicking display.

    Somehow Richmond held out till half time, the defence refusing to bow to the power and weight of the Jersey attack. The Islanders did well to retain possession but they could find no way through. Five minutes into the second half, Richmond extended their lead with an excellent try. The Reds cleared the kick off to their ten metre line and Chris Davies won the line out ball.  When the ball was moved out to the left, Woodward’s twinkling feet and beautifully timed pass set Simpson-Hefft sprinting to the corner and the winger had the pace to beat the cover. Kirby added another top notch conversion.

    Now it was again Jersey’s turn and Richmond were forced back into desperate defence. Once again the visitors drove from a succession of line outs but the home side were well drilled and held out with some wonderful defensive work on the line. With the big men out of ideas, the visitors suddenly spotted space. With a number of backs sprinting out to the right, the home defence was momentarily distracted and, when the ball went left the powerful Apakuki Ma’afu found just enough space to crash over. The South African fly half, Brendan Cope added another good conversion.

    With tension mounting, Richmond won another penalty, converted by Kirby, to extend the lead to two scores. However any new confidence was soon rocked by a yellow card for Jake Parker, binned for obstructing a kick and chase. Jersey quickly exacted full punishment, driving over from fifteen metres in the follow up play, Jerry Sexton the try scorer. Importantly Cope added a touchline conversion and the lead was just six points with eight minutes to go.

    With nerves jangling on both sides, Richmond got themselves back within kicking range and, when a Reds’ forward found himself the wrong side of the breakdown, Kirby made no mistake and the score was extended to 23-14. Jersey maintained the pressure as the home side tried to play out time. But there was no further score and it was time to celebrate an excellent day when all five Richmond sides claimed victories.

    Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented; ‘This is a fantastic result for this squad of players. Each one of them showed huge amounts of courage and determination. They worked incredibly hard for each other for the whole game and were rewarded with a well-deserved win. There will be a lot of sore bodies and sore heads after yesterday and last night, but everyone will have a smile on their face when they travel to the office on Monday morning’

    Tries: Jones, Simpson-Hefft
    Conversions: Kirby (2)
    Penalties: Kirby (3)
    Team: R.Kirby, J.Woodward, C.Mitchell (J.Simpson-Hefft), R.McLean-Dents, M.Freeman, F.Gabbitass, L.Jones, J.Cunnew (W.Goodrick-Clarke), J.Phipps (R.Grimstone)), C.Trenier (J.Tarrant), W.Warden (A.Humfrey), C.Davies, J.Liston , J.Allcock (T.Saysell), J.Parker.