The Breakdown: Richmond Defeat Canterbury 50-0
by Tim Forrester
Richmond have secured their ninth win of the National League 1 season, soaring to a 50-0 victory over Canterbury.
Playing some delightful open rugby, Richmond ran up a neat fifty points to cement their place as the league leaders. Just as importantly Richmond stayed disciplined in defence to deny the Kent club any points. With this win, Richmond stretch their lead at the top of the table to seven points, with second placed Rosslyn Park picking up just two points against Chinnor. The top two sides meet next week at the Athletic Ground in a game not to be missed.
Richmond rotated their squad for this game, resting some of the regulars to provide a chance for other squad players. On the wing, ex-Richmond mini Louis Lynagh, now in the Harlequins Academy, made his debut and Jeremy Cunnew made a welcome reappearance after injury to start on the bench.
Canterbury, led by ex-Richmond favourite Matt Corker, gained promotion at the end of last season and are still adjusting to the new level. After several close results, they have suffered a number of injuries, as well as a red card and six-week suspension for their captain.
With the weather dry, conditions allowed running rugby for the first time in several weeks. Richmond started at a gallop, mobile lock Chris Allman setting the tone from the kick-off.
However, at the tackle, Canterbury were awarded the first penalty of the day and set up in the visiting 22. When the lineout throw overshot the jumper, flanker Tom Pashley was first to the ball and he soon accelerated impressively into space to find Jesse Liston in close support. Callum Torpey in turn took the ball on in a fluent move and, just as he seemed to have stalled, Tom Hodgson timed his run perfectly to burst over for an excellent opening try after six minutes.
Richmond looked full of running and Canterbury were too readily losing possession. After thirteen minutes, a clearance kick was well taken by Lynagh, who made good ground before finding Allman in support. With the ball quickly moved wide, Cam Mitchell then cut back and weaved skilfully through the wrong footed defence for an excellent second try, converted by Rob Kirby.
Three minutes later, the third try followed and this time it was a solo effort by the highly promising Lynagh. Canterbury lost possession after a scrum and Hamish Graham threw a lovely long pass to his fellow winger, who was still in his own half. Looking up, Lynagh spotted space, accelerated towards the defenders and put in a deep kick behind them. The defenders looked likely to reach the ball first but Lynagh had the pace and determination to beat them for a very well worked debut try.
Richmond’s progress was briefly interrupted by the departure of winger Graham who pulled up lame after a short kick and chase. He was replaced by fly-half Lewis Dennett. For the second successive week, Hodgson was shunted to centre where he again did an excellent job. The bonus point try followed in the 23rd minute. The forwards won good scrum ball ten metres out before skipper Mitchell dragged in the defence to provide space for Hodgson to claim his second try.
With the main job done after a very impressive opening quarter, Richmond lost a little momentum, conceding two penalties in short time. A clash of heads among the home forwards also held up play for a while and it took until the 39th minute for Richmond to add a fifth try, earned by the pack as they worked up the touchline before Liston dived over from the back of a driving maul. The conversion thumped the post.
With the temperature dropping and the natural light fading, it was inevitable that there would be more errors in the second half. Canterbury never gave Richmond an easy ride, contesting every tackle and working hard to disrupt the Richmond passing. Will Scholes and Tyler Oliver often caught the eye and Ricky Mackintosh showed some pace on the wing. However, the Richmond pack consistently secured good quality ball and more tries were inevitable.
The impressive Pashley, who cut a great line to burst through the initial defence, fittingly scored the sixth try. The support was excellent, Liston, Mitchell and Allman to the fore, before the flanker was able to get the final touch, Kirby converting.
With the benches now being emptied, Richmond were chasing fifty points. Callum Torpey was consistently prominent, delighting in the opportunity to show his mobility, and Kirby had one long weaving run to the home 22. Some slightly optimistic final passes were thrown but eventually two more tries were scored. Toby Dabell got the seventh with a smart tap and go after a succession of attacking penalties.
Finally, in injury time, Allman and Ryan Nixon provided the build-up before the hard working Dan Kelly gave Liston the scoring pass. This time Dennett did the honours with the conversion.
Director of Rugby Steve Hill said: “This was our best team performance of the season so far. I was really pleased with our set piece and we played with pace and accuracy. We took our chances well and to concede no points is a huge bonus. The challenge is now to back it up and perform well against Rosslyn Park next Saturday.”
Tickets are now on sale for next Saturday’s huge local derby against Rosslyn Park (KO 3pm).
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Richmond 50 defeated Canterbury 0
Tries: Hodgson 2, Liston 2, Mitchell, Lynagh, Pashley, Dabell
Conversions: Kirby 4, Dennett 1
Other Richmond Men’s Results:
Richmond Vikings 79 beat Canterbury 2nd XV 17
Richmond Saxons 10 defeated by Wimbledon 19
Richmond Jutes 19 beat Camberley 12
Richmond Heavies 10 defeated by Henley 22
Image courtesy of Phillipa Hilton