Richmond 20 Nottingham 12
Richmond’s Cup team, superbly led by skipper and Man of the Match Tom Sargeant, pulled off a remarkable victory against a full strength Nottingham in the British & Irish Cup. Having lost 3-43 against the same opponents last week, Richmond made six changes but still excluded the entire starting line up from the last League game. 8-12 down at half time, Richmond took increasing control of the second half and simply did not allow their opponents to find any sort of rhythm. This win maintains the remarkable momentum of recent weeks, which has now featured three wins and a close finish in the last five weeks.
Richmond showed their intent from the kick off, the defensive line coming up with such pace and intensity that Nottingham’s Vili Hakalo was pressurised into a kick out on the full. Max Crawford, a strong presence in the line out all afternoon, claimed the ball and the pack drove efficiently into the 22 before conceding a penalty. However Nottingham showed their attacking ability minutes later, the impressive Laurence Rayner putting newcomer Alex Goble into space before the busy Jordan Simpson-Hefft covered well at full back.
Next it was Harry Edwards’ turn as the rangy No 8 made a good break down the touchline but again a penalty conceded stalled progress. Richmond looked strong at the first scrum and, after nine minutes took the lead with an Ali Chisholm penalty after some Nottingham obstruction. However the visitors looked threatening, ball in hand, despite aggressive home defence, Adam Lee and Jono Woodward frequently to the fore. The pressure told after sixteen minutes, two penalties allowing Nottingham to set up five metres out. The drive from the line out was held but the ball was slipped out to winger David Williams, who dived over in the corner.
Six minutes later Nottingham scored again. Richmond kicked out on the full and the visitors drove into the 22 from the line out before scrum half Murray McConnell took a neat inside ball to scythe through the defence and score under the posts. Rayner converted and Richmond trailed 3-12. The home side were playing some good rugby nonetheless, occasionally undone by some imprecise kicking. For Nottingham, Rayner mixed his game well, probing the wings with some clever cross kicks. However it was Richmond who scored next, initiating possession from another strong set scrum. Ali Chisholm came into the line from the left wing and was released into space short of the half way line. The winger still had a lot to do but demonstrated great pace and awareness to run a neat ‘in and out’ before haring for the corner flag and an excellent solo try. From the touchline, Chisholm hit the post with the conversion.
With the score 8-12 at half time, the London Cheerleaders (sponsored by the Heavies) entertained the crowd and roused them into more vociferous support. Certainly Richmond came out fired up, earning a penalty after the first minute, the kick just sliding wide. Nottingham had a five-metre line out but the pack turned over possession and the outstanding Edwards made the hard yards to release the pressure. After ten minutes, there followed the turning point of the match. A shuddering Edwards tackle set up possession and Callum Grant box kicked beautifully, the ball eluding the defence, allowing Charlie Broughton to claim it. The winger waited patiently for support and, when the ball was recycled, a lovely long pass gave Toby Quarendon space in the centre. He still had plenty to do but finished superbly to complete a high-class score, converted by Chisholm.
Five minutes later, Richmond increased their lead. Quarendon was again centrally involved. Nottingham, clearly rattled by the defensive aggression, allowed the centre to grab possession, make good ground and find ready support. The ball was rapidly recycled out to the left and appropriately it was skipper Sargeant, who was out wide to show his pace and score in the corner.
Now two scores down, Nottingham again had a five metre line out but, when they were penalised for an illegal maul formation, back chat cost them an extra ten metres. Richmond in turn had a line out five metres out but this time a knock on lost the opportunity. Richmond had conceded three tries in the last five minutes the previous week but this time, the side were not going to allow it. The defence remained staunch, every player tackled his heart out, substitute Caldon Pike provided some new energy and, finally, with the crowd roaring them on, Richmond celebrated the bravest of victories. They played some very good rugby too and Richmond will have some tricky selection judgements to make for next week.
Steve Hill, Richmond Director of Rugby, commented; ‘This was a fantastic performance and result. Last April the players agreed we would need good depth in the squad to do well this season. This result highlights that depth. Within six days to turn a forty point loss into a win, plus being against much stronger opposition, says a huge amount about the character of this group. The scrum gave us a solid platform whilst Edwards and Sargeant in the back row were everywhere. Ali Chisholm scored possibly the try of our season so far. This will put huge pressure on those players who did not play and gives the coaches the type of selection headaches they like.’
Tries: Chisholm, Quarendon, Sargeant.
Team: J.Simpson-Hefft, C.Broughton, T.Quarendon(T.Platt), J.Woodward, A.Chisholm, R.Lynn, C.Grant, J.Tarrant, S.Wright(C.Pike), A.Lyon(A. Boland), M.Crawford, T.Hotson, A.Lee(S.Edwards), H.Edwards, T.Sargeant.