The Breakdown: Richmond Secure Bonus Point Win
By Tim Forrester
Richmond delivered their home fans an early Christmas present with a resounding 39-10 bonus point victory over Birmingham Moseley at the Athletic Ground.
On a chilly and blustery December afternoon in front of a strong crowd of 868, Richmond secured their eleventh win of the 2019/20 season to push clear at the top of the National League 1 table.
Richmond opened the scoring after just four minutes, a turnover in the home 22 providing Louis Lynagh with a chance to break down the left wing. Moseley scrambled back but knocked on five metres out. From the scrum, the ball was moved wide to Louis Molloy but the pass was slightly behind him. The winger did well to turn, find space and then slip a scoring pass to prop Jeremy Cunnew. Tom Hodgson added the conversion and then a penalty kick after Moseley’s Morgan Dawes was yellow carded.
However, after Alex Bibic again took the kick off ball well, Richmond then lost possession through a knock on. This provided an opportunity for the tricky Aquile Smith to make a half break, stopped at the cost of a penalty, converted by fly half Ben Palmer.
There was no letup in the scoring as Dan Kelly followed up the kick off ball to put pressure on Moseley to escape their 22. Scrum-half Jack Jolly kicked high but short and his team knocked the ball on. Once again Richmond moved the ball down the line at speed and, when one pass went astray, Gibbings did a fine tidying up job. Finally space was worked and Tom Pashley showed excellent pace to run in from twenty metres.
Moseley had one good opportunity when they intercepted an attack under their posts, breaking back to half way but Richmond were able to get back and force a knock on. The Midlanders had a period of pressure now but the home defence held out well and were soon back on attack. Jamie Gibbs’ fast distribution set the tone and fly-half Hodgson was excellent with his running and passing. Cunnew and Bibic were involved in a lot of the open play and flanker Andy Boyce was named Player of the Match, showcasing the strength of Richmond’s back-row options. At half-time Richmond led 18-3, Hodgson adding a second penalty just before the break.
The second half started similarly to the first, Richmond scoring in the opening minutes. This time the front-row were prominent in the buildup, Ken Dowding, Gibbings and Cunnew all showing good handling skills before the ball was moved out to the backs. Lynagh was now increasingly influential and he provided a neat scoring offload to Kelly who finished well. Hodgson added the conversion.
Despite the promptings of half-backs Palmer and Jolly, Moseley kept making errors under pressure, reflecting a loss of confidence from five previous defeats in a row. Le Roux and Lawrence did their best up front but Bibic stole several lineout balls to ramp up the pressure.
Richmond were slightly unfortunate to lose momentum as an attack developed under the posts. However, play was correctly stopped for a nasty injury to fly-half Palmer who hobbled off. In the 59th minute, the fourth try was scored, Lynagh weaving through from fullback after a loose pass. When he was tackled, some excellent handling worked the ball out to the far left on the 22 from where Toby Saysell rocketed up the touchline and round towards the posts for a fine try, converted by Hodgson.
Moseley seemed to have lost another opportunity with a horrible midfield pass, which resulted in a knock-on. However, their powerful scrum put enough pressure on the home eight to retrieve the put in. The home defence seemed to have held out in the 22 but Le Roux somehow slipped away unnoticed from a maul and the No 8 touched down for a try for his side, loudly greeted by the travelling supporters. Cliffie Hodgson added the conversion.
Richmond wanted to finish the game on their terms and, in the 79th minute, were able to do so. A neat kick by Gibbs started the move, Moseley conceding a penalty to a turnover. Ben Cook kicked to the corner, Byron Hodge secured possession and the pack drove forward. Finally the backs joined in, Morgan Ward the unlikely scorer as the maul finally rumbled over. Cook added a fine conversion and the festive celebrations began.
Richmond’s Director of Rugby Steve Hill said post-match: “It was great to see us play so well. We showed pace and accuracy in attack and real desire in defence. The pack provided some excellent first phase possession whilst the backs looked a constant threat with ball in hand. Today was a really good team performance.
Meanwhile, on a great afternoon for the club the Richmond Normans, Jutes and Heavies all recorded impressive home victories (see scores below).
Richmond’s next fixture is away against Chinnor next Saturday 21st December (KO 3pm).
Richmond 39 defeated Birmingham Moseley 10
Tries: Cunnew, Pashley, Kelly, Ward, Saysell
Conversions: Hodgson 3, Cook 1
Penalties: Hodgson 2
Richmond Men’s Results:
Richmond Normans 59 defeated Maidenhead 21
Richmond Jutes 26 defeated Farnham 2nd XV 8
Richmond Heavies 55 defeated London Irish Vets 22
Image courtesy of Dante Kim Photography.