Richmond 22 Coventry 5
With the return of Coventry to the Championship, Richmond resumed a favourite old fixture and claimed the honours on a day of filthy wet weather. Coventry have assembled a team with high credentials but on this occasion Richmond had the superior forward power, defensive organisation and game plan to claim four league points to nil. Richmond’s second successive win lifts them to sixth position in the table though some teams have played fewer games.
Richmond named an unchanged starting team, though on the bench there were welcome returns for crowd favourite Danny Parkinson and skipper Cameron Mitchell. Reputedly, the team boasted over 1500 first team appearances. With steady rain throughout the game plus an occasional gusting wind, conditions were very different to the sunshine of the previous week.
Coventry allowed Richmond to establish an early lead, which they never relinquished. A poor kick off and then loose tap ball at the line out handed Richmond a good field position. The forwards drove from the line out and Rory Damant then slid the ball into the corner, Coventry taking the ball into touch. The five metre line out was claimed and, after a snipe by Luc Jones, Will Goodrick-Clarke claimed a try for the forwards.
Coventry soon had a chance to make amends when Rob Kirby was isolated fielding a tricky low kick. However the Richmond defence held firm on the line and a subsequent set scrum resulted in another scrum penalty for the formidable home pack. Both sides tested defences with their kicking but Jones’ box kicking posed more danger than Will Maisey’s steeplers. After eighteen minutes Richmond used another scrum penalty to work their way close but a rare error of judgement by Jones resulted in a wasted kick to the corner. Andy Bulumakau made some headway with a good run but both sides continuously coughed up possession of the greasy ball. On the half hour, Coventry were penalised for crossing close to their 22 and Kirby extended Richmond’s lead to eight points.
The home full back then put in a wonderful touch finder from his ten metre line to the corner but the opportunity was lost as Ed Milne was given a long lecture for holding on. Coventry had a late penalty chance but Maisey’s kick drifted wide.
Whatever was said at half time, Coventry came out fired up and soon cut the lead. Richmond had again pinned their opponents back but a neat kick over the top by danger man Sam Tuitoupo found space and set up position in the home 22. The Coventry forwards made good yards from the line out and provided momentum for Tuitoupo to get within five metres. With referee Ian Tempest playing advantage, scrum half Tom Kessell looped a scoring pass for Bulumakau to go over in the corner.
Coventry now had the best of the wind and looked dangerous breaking out of their 22 before a wonderful cover tackle by Cameron Hudson averted the danger. After thirteen minutes, Richmond conceded a penalty over 45 metres out and Coventry curiously opted to go for goal. When Maisey’s kick died well short, Ronnie McLean-Dents was able to hoof the ball back to half way. One minute later James Gibbons was yellow carded for foul play and the Coventry revival withered.
From the penalty, Richmond steadily built pressure through a succession of five metre scrums. With the excellent Milne hobbling off, Chris Davies moved to No 8 and picked up to charge within a metre of the line before livewire Jesse Liston stormed over for a deserved try, converted by Kirby.
Coventry continued to make errors as Richmond steadily pushed them back deep into their half. Tuitoupu worked hard but when he slipped running the ball out of defence, he conceded a penalty which Kirby thumped against the post. Jordan Simpson-Hefft was almost over as Coventry dropped the ball close to their line. Richmond maintained the pressure very effectively, forcing errors with thumping tackles, Will Warden always to the fore. Finally in the 79th minute, Richmond had another scrum five and with Parkinson at tight head, the scrum heaved forward with gusto and Davies claimed the pushover try, converted by Kirby.
Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby commented; ‘This was a really impressive display. Our scrum and driving maul worked really well whilst our defence negated their powerful runners. The work rate of our tight five was tremendous. I thought our decision makers played the conditions really well and ensured we stayed in the right parts of the field. We built pressure and converted it into points. We will need an even better display next Saturday at Ealing’
Tries: Goodrick-Clarke, Liston, Davies.
Conversion: Kirby (2)
Team: R.Kirby J.Woodward, C.Hudson (C.Mitchell) , R.McLean-Dents, J.Simpson-Hefft, R.Damant , L.Jones (S.Edgerley), W.Goodrick-Clarke (J.Cunnew) R.Grimstone (J.Phipps), C.Trenier (D.Parkinson), W.Warden C.Davies J.Parker , J.Liston, E.Milne (C.Lenygon).