Richmond 7   Bedford Blues 36


Richmond suffered a rude awakening to the new Championship season with a brutal five try to one defeat. Seeds of improvement were clearly visible in the second half when Richmond recovered from the 0-36 half time score. But a fast and well drilled Bedford Blues side enjoyed the hard ground and, in this form, look well set to challenge any league opponents.   

Missing Rory Damant and Rob Kirby, Richmond introduced five newcomers to the league side. Ben Rath (ex Rotherham and London Scottish) and Luke Jones (ex Harlequins) featured in the backs whilst the pack included Craig Trenier (ex Ulster), Alex Humfrey (ex Bath Academy) and Jake Parker (ex Cornish Pirates). Bedford had no less than seven newcomers in their starting line up, with plenty of experience offered by Lee Dickson (ex Northampton) Tom Lindsay (ex Wasps) and Chris Czekaj (ex Cardiff and Wales).

The Blues kicked off at the later time of 5pm, following the London Scottish home game. Whether or not this disorientated the home side, the visitors started with much greater intensity.  From the kick off, Bedford put Richmond under pressure and a penalty soon followed when two defenders failed to roll away. Will Hooley made no mistake with the penalty.

Richmond remained under the cosh, a superb high kick by Dickson dropped in defence. Richmond cleared the initial danger but only to thirty metres and, at the next line out, were pinged for pulling down the maul.  Holley kicked for the corner and the pack rumbled over with disarming ease, No 8 Jarad Williams the scorer.  The Blues finally had to do some defending after a line out just outside their 22 but an all too common knock on halted progress. The visitors were soon back on the attack after a scrum free kick and quickly worked their way to the opposing 22. The line out throw to Will Carrick-Smith did not look straight and Richmond appeared to stop but winger Dean Adamson did not and he burst through a static defence to score near the posts, Hooley taking the score to 0-15 after fourteen minutes.

Three minutes later, Bedford increased their lead, the initial impetus coming from a scrum penalty. Once again Hooley set his forwards up deep in the 22 and, after Ed Taylor claimed the initial possession, winger Howard Packman came through on an inside line to break a tackle and claim his side’s third try, converted by Hooley.

Very gradually, Richmond were finally getting some phases together but progress was lateral and the passing rather loose and frantic. Eight penalties conceded in the first half did not help their cause. Just before the half hour, the task got tougher when, on a day when the marginal decisions went against them, Luke Jones was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on.  Bedford immediately turned the screw, Michael Le Bourgeois making a half break to send in Adamson for his second try, inevitably converted by Hooley.  With Jack Allcock acting as stand in scrum half, Richmond did well to hold out for the next ten minutes, but, as Jones made his way back on the field, Jordan Simpson-Hefft departed, carded for another deliberate knock on, and the Blues quickly bundled over from the line out, Tom Lindsay taking the half time score to an uncomfortable 0-36.

Happily, the second half was a different story. Galvanised by the half time message, Richmond significantly raised their intensity and line speed and spent most of the half in attack. The worthy Jason Phipps claimed an early try as the forwards drove over from a five metre line out.  Freddie Gabbitass added an excellent touch line conversion. Richmond continued to enjoy good line out possession and the scrum looked much sturdier. At last they found some breaks in the Bedford defence, home Man of the Match Ronnie McLean-Dents, Cameron Mitchell and Harry Edwards all running well. But they still could not find the accuracy with final passes to add to their score against well organised opposition. The home defence was now admirable, one wonderful cover tackle saving what appeared to be a certain Bedford try. With four wingers in their backline and Dickson a shrewd general, Bedford were imposing on the break but Richmond were resolute in the second half and, after a first half best forgotten, the second half performance offered encouragement for the future.

Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented; ‘Our first half performance was disappointing. We lacked precision and discipline and Bedford took their chances well. To win the second half 7-0 showed a good deal of character and good impact from the bench. We will need to be at our best from the first minute when we face Ealing next Saturday.’

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