Richmond 21 Nottingham 35
Two tries in the last ten minutes secured a good away win for Nottingham in a game where the lead changed hands no less than seven times. Leading 15-10 at half time, Richmond appeared to have the upper hand, dominating all the tight exchanges. However, in the second half, the visitors’ backs made the crucial contributions, their pace and running lines always testing the hard working home defence. Richmond slip to ninth after this game and will look for a more accurate display against Jersey next week.
Richmond fielded a familiar side, lacking only Jesse Liston, injured the previous week. Facing a bright sun, they soon claimed the first score. Nottingham conceded a scrum for a crooked line out throw and Richmond used the possession to good effect, retaining the ball through a number of phases. Finally skipper Cameron Mitchell worked a half break to find Jono Woodward perfectly positioned at his shoulder to take a pop pass and run clear from fifteen metres. Rob Kirby added the conversion.
Nottingham reduced the lead after nine minutes. Richmond conceded a penalty on half way and the visitors steadily built the pressure, a high tackle costing a second penalty in front of the posts converted by Sean O’Leary.
With two backs off for HIA’s, Nottingham showed the strength of their running game when they scored a break out try from their 22 three minutes later. Scrum half Murray McConnell made the initial break, handing on to full back Sean Scanlon before flanker Jordan Coghlan shrugged off the last defender to complete an excellent try, converted by O’Leary.
Richmond had an immediate opportunity to counter when Woodward broke at pace down the right wing with Kirby pressing to get outside him for a potential try scoring pass. The winger opted to cut in and was hauled down by the defence. Minutes later Will Warden, in rumbustious form, broke the defensive line but his pass was dropped. However morale was given a big lift when the Richmond eight got another scrum penalty to maintain their formidable scrummaging record this season. Kirby kicked beautifully from his own half to set up a line out five metres out and the pack battered forward after Jake Parker secured the line out ball. Finally a long pass out to the left gave Jordan Simpson-Hefft just enough time to power over in the corner.
A second scrum penalty again provided the opportunity to set up in the 22 but on this occasion Richmond got pinged when support was too slow to back up Warden on the drive. However, just past the half hour, a lovely long pass by Mitchell to Simpson-Hefft provided the initial momentum to an attack, which ended with a penalty in front, Kirby taking the score to 15-10.
However Nottingham wasted no time in the second half, taking the lead after three minutes. With Chris Davies off injured, the home line out stuttered, conceding possession. The mistake was costly, Nottingham working just enough space for winger Jack Spittle to blast his way to the line, bouncing off some despairing cover tackles. O’Leary added the conversion. Richmond worked hard to respond, Rory Damant squeezing through a gap to find Parker but the flanker’s pass fell into Nottingham hands. Fortunately, Richmond were awarded a penalty seconds later and Kirby converted it well. Nottingham almost got away on the counter but a huge tackle from Warden and some scampering by Luc Jones cleared the danger.
Ross Grimstone worked hard and got through another gap but again his pass could not find the support. Nottingham were now winning the territorial battle and O’Leary converted a simple penalty to regain the lead. Back came Richmond, the forwards making good yards to give Kirby a more difficult chance, converted well to take the score to 21-20. With ten minutes to go and nerves stretched, Nottingham resumed attack around the 22 and O’Leary surprised everybody with a well judged drop goal.
Richmond had just under ten minutes to regain the lead but it was Nottingham’s day. Firstly No 8 Josh Poullet completed a fine move, set up by excellent interplay by the backs and then, in the final minute, the forwards had the last word. Richmond conceded a penalty for pulling down the maul and the pack made no mistake, prop Oisin Hefferenan getting the touchdown and O’Leary adding the touchline conversion.
For Richmond, tight head Craig Trenier deservedly got the Man of the Match award for another excellent scrummaging display.
Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented; ‘We are all very frustrated at getting no points from this match. Our scrum again was strong and we made enough scoring opportunities to secure a win. However individual and unit errors at crucial times allowed a very good Nottingham team to stay in the game and ultimately take it away from us.’
Tries: Woodward, Simpson-Hefft.
Penalty: Kirby (3)
Team: R.Kirby J.Woodward, C.Mitchell , R.McLean-Dents, J.Simpson-Hefft, R.Damant (L.Dennett) , L.Jones (S.Edgerley), W.Goodrick-Clarke (J.Cunnew) R.Grimstone (J.Phipps), C.Trenier (D.Parkinson), W.Warden C.Davies (C.Lenygon) J.Parker, A.Boyce, E.Milne (T.Saysell)