London Scottish 17 Richmond 27
Richmond ended their Championship season as they started it, with a convincing win over the auld enemy London Scottish. Since only an incorrect refereeing decision denied them the claim of an extra two Cup wins, Richmond can reasonably claim a clean sweep of the four games this season between the two clubs. Richmond end the season with six wins and 33 points, on this occasion not enough to prevent relegation but certainly enough to show that they are fully competitive at this level.
Led out by Rory Damant and Chris Davies, Richmond started the game playing into a strong wind. At the kick off, a Scottish player was tackled early and the penalty provided the opportunity to set up in the Richmond 22. Somehow Richmond escaped two five metre line outs and, when the first set scrum was called, drilled the Scots emphatically backwards to win a penalty. Sadly Luc Jones, playing his final game for Richmond, was injured in the follow up and hobbled off soon afterwards.
With Jamie Gibbs providing his usual snappy service, Richmond took the disruption in their stride and soon scored the opening try. The move originated with another strong scrum, Gibbs looping neatly round to make the extra man. Davies, Will Goodrick-Clarke and Myles Scott were then all prominent as Richmond battered forward towards the line. Finally, two metres out, Scott picked his spot and drove over the top of the ruck. Rob Kirby was again faultless with five successful kicks, ending the season second top points scorer in the Championship despite Richmond’s low position in the table.
Dominating the scrum and putting pressure on the opposition line out, Richmond were the dominant side and scored their second try after 19 minutes. Davies secured the line out ball with help from Craig Trenier, and Damant then showed some magic, stepping and weaving his way through the Scottish defence to score from twenty metres.
Damant was soon back in the action, grabbing loose ball to run thirty metres before a desperate cover tackle pulled him back. Fly half Matt Davidson earned a yellow card for the high tackle. With the Richmond defensive line up fast on their opponents, the Scots focussed on using the wind to kick for territory. However, despite the efforts of main jumper Theo Vukasinovic, they could not build any pressure from the line out. After half an hour, Richmond lost their own line out ball and it was a neatly judged chip kick, which undid the defence. The ball bobbed through hands before winger Rob Stevenson seized possession and, with support inside, dummied the final defender to touch down. Josh Barton added the conversion.
Frustrated by their scrummaging frailty, the Scots changed their front row after just 34 minutes but the score remained unchanged at half time. The Scots were clearly rattled and conceded an extra ten metres when penalised in the opening minute of the half. Jamie Gibbs had to work hard to bring down his opposite number Barton, who looked full of running. However the main action was taking place elsewhere as Vukasinovic and Trenier were embroiled in a brawl. The Scottish lock had been involved in niggle earlier and was clearly the instigator but both men were given red cards, the penalty going to Richmond.
The departure of their tight head meant Richmond had to replace the excellent Myles Scott with prop Dave Spelman. The Scots now looked more committed in their play whilst Richmond made further adjustment with Ben Cook replacing Andy Boyce and key man Henry Cheeseman moving up into the back row. After 62 minutes, the London Scottish cut the lead with a second try by Stevenson. The try followed a rather loose clearance kick and was set up with some neat handling by Joe Atkinson and Miles Mantella. Damant tracked back well to ensure the score was touched down wide out and the conversion was missed. Mantella was soon on the score sheet himself, picking up loose ball in his 22 just five minutes later, to run seventy metres to score near the posts, Davidson converting.
With 15 minutes to go, it looked as if Richmond were going to end on a disappointing note. But the team once again dug deep and seized control. The Scots helped by conceding a penalty under their posts, one of fourteen in the game. With the score 17-17, Max Crawford secured the kick off ball and Richmond worked their way back to the home 22. Finally the ball was worked out to the right and some lovely passing and movement gave Morgan Ward just enough space to beat his man on the outside before sweetly stepping inside to score the try of the game.
With nine minutes left, Richmond were not going to allow the Scots any opportunity for a comeback. Skipper Cameron Mitchell fittingly made the key break to win another penalty and Kirby took the lead out to a convincing ten points. It was a fine end to a difficult season with a number of players vying for man of the match in what was a real team performance. Scott and Goodrick-Clarke were outstanding in the first half, Damant, Cheeseman and Davies were excellent throughout and Gibbs did a fine job in ensuring Richmond consistently played with tempo.
Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented; ‘What a fantastic way to end our season. Beating our closest rivals is always difficult to achieve so to do so when a number of the squad are moving on made it even more enjoyable. I thought Rory Damant and Chris Davies in their final game showed what this club is about. The whole club can hold its head high in what is has achieved during the last three seasons. During that time, with the exception of Bristol and London Irish, we have beaten every team which just goes to show how competitive we have been. We now look forward to a ten day tour to Argentina and the challenge of life in National One.’
Tries: Scott, Damant, Ward
Conversions: Kirby (3)
Pens: Kirby (2)
Team: R.Kirby, M.Ward, C.Mitchell, H.Cheeseman, B.Rath, R.Damant, L.Jones (J.Gibbs)(L.Dennett), W.Goodrick-Clarke (T.Walford), R.Grimstone (R.Freestone), C.Trenier (JD.Spelman)), M.Scott, M.Crawford (C.Lenygon), J..Liston, A.Boyce (B.Cook), C.Davies.