The Breakdown: Late Drama As Richmond Suffer Third Straight Defeat
By Tim Forrester
Richmond conceded their third straight defeat, falling to a dramatic 31-30 loss to a courageous Plymouth Albion side.
After holding a lead of 27-7 in the 55th minute, Richmond will be exasperated that they managed to lose the game in extra time. They will take some consolation that they played very well to set up what seemed a match winning lead but nerves seemed to set in during the final half hour.
Plymouth took their chances and their final try was a fine one. Richmond do take two points from this game and, with Rosslyn Park losing, this takes them back to the top of the table with a pack of clubs closing in behind.
Richmond made five changes to the side, which lost by a point at Sale. There were yet more changes in the backs, where injury has bedevilled the squad. However, this afforded opportunity to Morgan Ward, back after a period of unavailability, and Louis Molloy, making his debut after a sequence of strong performances for the Vikings. In a late change, Andy Boyce replaced Toby Saysell.
After two disappointing performances, Richmond started in lively fashion, winning their first two lineouts and displaying some neat handling skills. Plymouth then came offside at the first scrum and Tom Hodgson kicked ahead. From there the pack took over, driving steadily forward until the deserving Jeremy Cunnew splintered off to burrow over.
Richmond suffered a blow in the 8th minute when leading point’s scorer Rob Kirby came off with a shoulder injury. Lewis Dennett stepping in at fullback. However, once again it was the forwards who set up a second score in the 12th minute. The second scrum of the match resulted in a home penalty and Hodgson again found touch twenty metres out, this time on the far side. Albion managed to stop the drive but Richmond stayed patient and a lovely pass by Jamie Gibbs allowed Dan Kelly to step inside his man for a good try, converted by Hodgson.
Richmond continued to dominate and a deft kick by Chris Allman and a break by Gibbs both set up good positions. However, when Plymouth had a scrum on their 22, a big Richmond shove resulted in a penalty conceded. Lewis Pearson, a strong Albion presence all afternoon, made good progress from the lineout and Richmond conceded a second penalty. Eight metres out, the Plymouth forwards drove forward before a heap of bodies collapsed just short of the line. Referee Charlie Gayther awarded both a penalty try and a yellow card to Andy Boyce.
Despite this set back, Richmond conceded no further points in this half. Seemingly pushing back the Plymouth defensive line at will, dominant at the scrum and secure at the line out, Richmond looked full of confidence. Allman was a lively presence in the loose and one of a number of clean breaks saw him lope clear to the Albion 22.
Hodgson then slipped a well-judged outside pass to Cam Mitchell who cut in for another good try. Fly-half Hodgson, who had an excellent game, converted the score and added a penalty in the last minute of the half.
Despite a couple of knocks requiring change in the forwards, Richmond continued in confident mood and added a bonus point try within five minutes. Hodgson ghosted through a gap and threw out an exemplary pass to winger Molloy for his first league try. However, at this stage, Richmond’s game started to unravel. Having put themselves under unnecessary pressure in an attempt to create an overlap, Richmond conceded a soft lineout penalty. The defence worked hard but, after the second of two tap penalties, Joe Snow wriggled over and Connor Eastgate converted.
When Richmond followed up the kick-off to pressurise Plymouth just outside their 22, they were awarded a penalty and an immediate chance to restore their three score lead. However they opted instead to kick towards the corner. With the cold wind now picking up, they ended up only just over the 22 and the lineout then failed. Plymouth now had the momentum as Richmond started to make more and more small errors. Richmond had chances to clear but hooker Jamie Salter scored in the 56th minute after a forward drive from the lineout. Twelve minutes later, the home defence just opened up and Josh Skelcey ran through the hole from twenty metres, Eastgate converting to take the score to 27-26.
Tom Pashley provided a brief moment of cheer with a rampaging run, well supported by the dependable Jake Parker. A Plymouth ‘lazy runner’ blocked the pass and Hodgson kicked the penalty with four minutes to go. Plymouth then conceded a penalty at the kick-off but Richmond still could not hold out. The final action of the game was a scrum in the home half. Plymouth secured their ball and good hands set winger Alex Ducker clear on the outside. He was hauled down in the 22 but the ball went loose off hands and bobbled towards the line. Substitute Skelcey was there first to get the touch down. Was it a knock on? The officials conferred at length before the try was awarded and Plymouth had completed a remarkable turnaround for a win.
Meanwhile, the Richmond Vikings continued their incredible unbeaten run, claiming a 29-7 victory over Wimbledon.
Richmond’s next fixture is away to Cambridge next Saturday 7th December.
Richmond 30 defeated by Plymouth 31
Tries: Cunnew, Mitchell, Molloy, Kelly
Conversions: Hodgson 2
Penalties: Hodgson 2
Richmond Men’s Results:
Richmond Vikings 29 defeated Wimbledon 7
Richmond XV 0 defeated by Oxford University 15
Richmond Jutes 50 defeated Rosslyn Park 7
Richmond Women 0 defeated by Loughborough Lightning 34
Richmond Women 2nd XV 5 defeated by Loughborough Lightning 2nd XV 22
Image courtesy of Dante Kim Photograpy.