By Tim Forrester
Richmond have suffered their first defeat of the 2019/20 season, going down 19-14 to an impressive Cinderford side.
For just under 80 minutes, Richmond and Cinderford could not be split, the score moving from a half time 0-0 to 7-7 and then 14-14. However the last act of the game started with a penalty against Richmond and Cinderford exacted full punishment, kicking for the corner and driving over for the winning score. Richmond, who had the lead with three minutes to go, had to settle for one point. The only consolation for a disappointing performance was that other results went their way and Richmond retain top position in the National League 1 table with an unchanged lead of three points. Cinderford now sit in fourth place.
Immediately before the game, both sides stood in tribute to Richmond stalwart Martin Slagter and there was a minute of applause. There had been a significant shower before the game, which meant that a greasy ball hindered handling in the opening minutes. An over the shoulder kick from Jamie Gibbs set Richmond up in the 22 and provided a platform for Dan Kelly to get within two metres. Not for the last time, the ball was knocked on in the follow up and the chance lost.
Cinderford brought a big pack and had the better of the second scrum to win a penalty. Their front row of Ollie Dawe (Bristol), Nathan Taylor (former London Welsh and Hartpury) and James Elliot (former Moseley) offered plenty of experience and even more bulk. Nevertheless, Richmond continued to boss the early stages with the home backrow to the fore. Jesse Liston made three tackles in quick succession before winning a turnover, whilst Toby Saysell was ever prominent. Rob Kirby had an early penalty chance but the distance always looked ambitious. Gradually Cinderford worked their way into the game. Richmond’s build up play looked promising but handling errors bedevilled them all afternoon. For the visitor’s fullback Ed Sheldon was evasive but they lost their best opportunity when Byron Hodge stole a key attacking lineout.
The Richmond scrum earned a revenge penalty with play largely centred between the ten metre lines. Liston was first to a loose ball to set up another promising attack but it fizzled out with another knock on. After half an hour Richmond were awarded another penalty, well within kicking range, but frustration continued as the kick went wide. Cinderford’s Sam Smith had a late run into the 22 but the home defence held and the first half ended without a score.
Richmond started the second half kicking out on the full and it was beginning to feel like a bad day. Play was scrappy from both sides and it took a Cinderford error to break the deadlock. Around the half way line a kick was charged down and Cam Mitchell and Dan Kelly worked their way to the 22 before the cover caught them. However, Richmond stayed patient, the forwards built the pressure and Jimmy Litchfield finally drove over for his third try of the season, converted by Kirby. The lead held for five minutes before Cinderford seized ball straight from a 22 and worked winger Ed Bogue into space. The defence finally caught him a metre short but Elliot followed up to burrow over and James Butler added the conversion.
Both sides had now emptied their benches but the two excellent defences dominated until the 75th minute. The home front-row were awarded another penalty and Lewis Dennett kicked well to fifteen metres. Jesse Liston won the lineout ball and forwards and backs combined to drive Toby Saysell over. Kirby added the conversion and Richmond had five minutes to defend their lead. This time it was not to be.
Cinderford got a scrum penalty and Stefan Hawley found touch five metres out with his left foot. The Cinderford pack were well primed and the lineout ball was confidently secured before hooker Nathan Taylor was unstoppably driven over. Butler needed the conversion and he got it. With one minute left, a draw looked the reasonable result but Cinderford had other ideas. A Richmond attack petered out on halfway. Cinderford secured the ball and Richmond conceded a twelfth penalty. Thereafter it was a bad dream as Hawley repeated his kick and the pack made it look simple, Taylor driving over for a match winning try, greeted with rapturous enthusiasm.
Director of Rugby Steve Hill said: “The players are disappointed with the way they played today. They created chances but failed to take them and the management of the game in the final ten minutes should have been better. Hopefully this is a wake-up call and we will see a response next Saturday.”
Richmond’s next fixture is away against Rotherham Titans on Saturday (KO 2pm).
Richmond 14 defeated by Cinderford 19
Tries: Litchfield, Saysell
Conversions: Kirby 2
Tries: Elliot, Taylor 2
Conversions: Butler 2
Other Richmond Men’s Results:
Richmond Vikings 52 beat Cinderford 2nd XV 26
Richmond Saxons 31 defeated by Canterbury 48
Richmond Normans 19 beat Sutton & Epsom 15
Richmond Women’s Results:
Richmond Women 5 defeated by DMP Sharks 26
Image courtesy of Dante Kim Photography.