Richmond 16    Yorkshire Carnegie  22

A depleted Richmond side got tantalisingly close to breaking Carnegie’s seven game winning run but ended up a score short despite a barnstorming finish.  Sixteen points up at half time, Richmond held the lead till the 70th minute but in the end had to settle for one more valuable league point to increase their lead over bottom club Hartpury to six points. Carnegie are now three points ahead of Richmond.

Following the bruising encounter with leaders London Irish six days previously, Richmond added five more players to their injury list.  In the backs the entire threequarter line was changed whilst in the forwards there were changes at hooker and No 8.

Despite all the reorganisation, Richmond got off to the better start in front of a crowd of just over a thousand. A long kick by Luc Jones set the tone and Carnegie were pushed into early errors, full back Jacob Umaga slicing his first clearance and No 8 Dan Temm conceding the first penalty for tackling a man without the ball. When the visitors then kicked out on the full, Richmond used scrappy line out ball to apply more pressure and earned another penalty, which Rob Kirby confidently converted.

Richmond continued to dominate play as their opponents conceded five penalties in the opening quarter of an hour. Ben Rath made one slicing run to go close but his side were again indebted to Kirby for their next points as he made a long kick look straightforward. The kick had been earned again by the hard working scrum, Will Goodrick-Clarke having a lively contest with Yorkshire tight head Andy Foster.

Carnegie struggled to escape their half as Richmond built pressure but neither side were confident of their line out possession. Rath again looked dangerous cutting in from the wing but a slight knock on near the line cost any further progress. After 35 minutes, Richmond were awarded a free kick at the scrum and when Jones tapped and ran, Carnegie killed the ball and Kirby kicked another well struck penalty.

Now two scores ahead, Richmond looked increasingly confident and extracted further advantage when Temm was yellow carded as his side gave away their eighth penalty of the half. Kirby just missed the penalty but Carnegie handed back possession with a poor 22. Richmond now played their best rugby of the half, the forwards bashing the line, Rupert Freestone, Chris Davies and Charlie Lenygon to the fore. Finally, after a long sequence of phases, Jones always a menace close to the line, spotted a gap and sniped over. Kirby added a first class conversion and Richmond held a three score half time lead.

With their opponents still a man short, Richmond would have planned to stretch the lead in the opening minutes of the second half. But it was the Yorkshire side, clearly rattled by a sub par opening forty minutes, who now seized control.  Umaga, growing in influence, kicked a penalty after just two minutes as Richmond were pinged for a high tackle. The wind was more of a factor than first appeared as Umaga was now able to replicate Kirby’s first half kicking range.

After six minutes, the Yorkshire side scored their opening try. Clearly looking to play more direct rugby, they took advantage of their opponents coming offside after an up and under. Richmond stopped the initial line out drive but were penalised and when Carnegie had a second go, Temm could not be stopped. Richmond’s kicking was consistently short into the wind and it allowed Carnegie too much freedom in running back at them. However it was a penalty at the breakdown, which set up the Yorkies in the home 22. Richmond held out the initial attack and seemed to have defended well when winger Chris Elder was bundled into touch at the corner. However, Elder intelligently kept the ball in play and Umaga was first to seize the loose ball and scramble over. The full back’s conversion cut the home lead to one point.

Richmond worked desperately hard to hold on, Davies and Man of the Match Jesse Liston always to the fore. Will Warden epitomised the spirit, thundering forward in the opposition 22 but somehow the first to cover back in his own 22 when Carnegie booted the ball back.  However, the visitors now had a grip on the game and, after a penalty for not releasing, they set up confidently in the 22 before once again driving over from the line out. Josh Bainbridge was the scorer and Umaga added a very good conversion.

In familiar style, Richmond fought to the end and the final play featured one of their best attacks, Jamie Gibbs providing some quick ball for the runners to push the visitors back towards the 22. However the last penalty of the game was a tough one for holding on and Carnegie booted the ball into touch with some relief.

Tries: Jones
Conversions: Kirby
Penalties: Kirby (3)
Team: R.Kirby, B.Rath, M.Ward, C.Hudson, S.Edgerley, R.Damant , L.Jones (J.Gibbs) , W.Goodrick-Clarke (J.Cunnew) R.Freestone , C.Trenier (D.Spelman), W.Warden, C.Lenygon J.Parker (A.Boyce),  J.Liston, C.Davies.