Richmond 7 Jersey Reds 38 (Championship Cup)
An impressive and confident Jersey side completed their tenth successive league or cup victory, defeating Richmond by six tries to one. This win gives the Reds every chance of a home quarter final, which will be a boon to the club’s finances. Richmond, whilst well beaten, were severely disrupted by injuries and probably did not get the rub of the green with some of the officials’ decisions. With the cup continuing for another two weeks, Richmond will look for a win next week over the auld enemy, the London Scottish, to get the season back on track.
Richmond fielded a pretty familiar side, Ben Cook and Marcus Webber continuing in the backs after showing promise in earlier cup games. With an early kick off at 2.15, many spectators were still finding their seats as Jersey opened the scoring. A rather aimless kick provided the initial momentum for a counter attack from the visitors and enabled them to set up five metres out. The result was familiar, hooker Jack McFarlane, scorer of four similar tries last week, opened the scoring from a driving maul after just three minutes. Brett Herron added an excellent conversion.
Webber had a brief chance to display his speed following up a long kick to harass the defence into a hurried clearance. But at the line out, Richmond’s task got harder. Most eyes were fixed on referee Adam Leal, unfortunately caught in the middle of a heavy collision. But, as he slowly regained his feet, key man Will Warden was trudging off to be replaced after just seven minutes by Ed Milne.
Richmond were again strong at the scrum and, from the next possession, Webber joined the line from the blindside to set Jono Woodward running full tilt at the Jersey defence. Five metres out, a Richmond charge down had no effect as the unfortunate referee got in the way. To rub salt in the wound, Richmond were then penalised at the resultant set scrum as the pack drove Jersey backwards.
Jersey now dominated play territorially, Richmond losing ball at the line out and coughing up possession with small errors. Frustration built, the team marched back an extra ten metres after one of seven first half penalties conceded. Nevertheless, the defence seemed to be working well, Richmond clearly better prepared for the Jersey line out drives, which they vigorously repelled. Will Goodrick-Clarke, part of a hard working front row, provided a timely turnover as his side again escaped the 22. However, in the27th minute, the referee now found fault with the defence of another drive and, having warned the team, awarded a penalty try plus a yellow card to Craig Trenier.
Richmond had an immediate chance to reduce the deficit, setting up at a five metre line out but the seven forwards lost the ball and it was hacked clear. Luc Jones, covering as ever, box kicked back. The Reds full back Auguy Slowik looked full of running throughout and he now cut across the field to find a defensive gap. Mark Best was in support and he gave the scoring pass to fly half Herron. It did appear that there was a knock on with one of the passes but the officials consulted and decided otherwise to leave a half time score of 0-21.
Richmond came out in the second half without skipper Cameron Mitchell and top try scorer Woodward, resulting in an unlikely line up of backs, featuring two fly halves and two scrum halves. Despite these difficulties, Richmond had their best sequence of play in the next twenty minutes. Milne managed to secure some line out ball and Richmond at last put together some attacking phases. After 57 minutes, Richmond got a deserved try, which originated from a turnover by Man of the Match Trenier. Cook, who showed some nice touches, kicked into the 22 and the forwards drove from the line out. With Mr Leal playing advantage, the hard working Cameron Hudson powered to the line and, as he was tackled, flipped back a scoring pass to Lewis Dennett. Rob Kirby added the conversion and Richmond had a glimmer of hope.
It was not to be. Slowik accelerated through the unfamiliar central defence and, with Cook just managing to hold him back, slipped an inside pass to Will Homer to score under the posts. Richmond never buckled and looked bound to score deep in the 22 with Gibbs adding pace at the base and players running on to the ball with more intent. However the Jersey defence was rock solid and, cruelly, a rather ambitious pass went astray, providing the dangerous Leroy Van Dam the chance to run the length of the field. Admirably Toby Saysell chased the winger all the way and kept him out to the corner.
It was not Richmond’s day and, after Jones and Gibbs saved one breakaway try, Slowik completed the scoring in the 78th minute after more dazzling interplay by the Reds’ backs. Max Davies, on loan from Ealing, made his debut in the last half hour.
Steve Hill, Richmond Director of Rugby, commented; ‘The players will be disappointed with the performance today. Our lack of discipline in the first half and wayward passing in the second half made it too easy for our opponents. Jersey are the form team of the division at present so we needed to be at our best to effectively compete - unfortunately we were not.’
Team: R.Kirby, J.Woodward (J.Gibbs), C.Mitchell (L.Dennett) , C.Hudson, M.Webber, B.Cook , L.Jones , W.Goodrick-Clarke, (T.Walford), R.Grimstone( (R.Freestone), C.Trenier (D.Spelman), W.Warden (E.Milne), C.Lenygon (MDavies), J.Liston, T.Saysell, J.Parker.