Richmond 10 Cornish Pirates 23
Cornish Pirates moved up to third place after this four try victory over Richmond but they were pushed all the way by a spirited Richmond team. Having taken a 10-0 lead, Richmond held the lead till the 59th minute and were distinctly unfortunate not to come away with a point. Richmond remain 11th, five points ahead of Hartpury, their next opponents, away on Friday evening.
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The day started with an important event, as a commemorative stone was unveiled in honour of the four ‘white knights’, who rescued the club after the ruins of the professional days. If it were not for David Corben, Tony Hallett, Tony Dorman and Peter Moore, a crowd of 1150 would not have been watching this game at the Athletic Ground.
Richmond started against the wind but dominated the opening quarter of the game. With the wind swirling strongly on the far touchline, both sides made errors but Richmond looked secure at both the line out and scrum. Lewis Dennett, playing at full back, was always looking to join the line and his left boot provided valuable territory. On the wing Marcus Webber was prominent, running an early tap penalty and then drawing a penalty, when given the ball in tight space on the touchline. Dennett kicked to the corner and, after Will Warden took the line out ball, the forwards drove to the line and Will Goodrick-Clarke burrowed over. Dennett’s conversion, curving spectacularly in the wind, hit the post.
Despite noisy support from their travelling fans, Pirates started a bit flat and were rattled into errors by some aggressive Richmond defence. After sixteen minutes, Matt Bolwell badly mistimed his tackle against Luc Jones as the scrum half jumped to take a high ball and the flanker was given a yellow card. Richmond quickly extracted further punishment, Dennett providing an excellent touch kick twenty metres out. Once again the forwards grouped, this time Max Crawford the provider, and the drive was decisive, Pirates being shunted backwards until Warden got the touchdown.
At this stage Richmond looked in confident command but, in the 23rd minute, Pirates countered from one of their first attacks into the home half. From an innocuous looking set up, Josh Caulfield suddenly burst clear from around the 22 and the burly No 6 just had the power to fend off the cover tackle and score. Pirates now looked livelier and winger Robin Wedlake chipped into space and for a second looked clear till Chris Davies swooped just in time. For the next five minutes, Richmond again applied constant pressure in the 22, Man of the Match Goodrick-Clarke again to the fore with a turnover. However, this time, Richmond could not convert pressure into points and the opportunity was lost when a penalty was conceded.
Momentum now started to swing. In the 36th minute, fly half Javier Rojas Alvarez further cut the lead following a penalty. On the stroke of half time, another penalty allowed the Pirates to set up and a neat chip through looked bound to result in a score till full back Kyle Moyle knocked the bobbing ball on.
With the wind now in their favour, Richmond looked to take advantage. Max Crawford was edging the line outs and Goodrick-Clarke and Bath-bound Christian Judge were enjoying a tight battle in the scrums. However the Pirates, with Exeter’s Harvey Skinner now at fly half, gradually tightened their game and eliminated the high error count. With Davies secure under the highball and Jesse Liston always working hard, Richmond held out till half way through the half. The breakthrough came from a kick and chase, which forced Dennett to hack the ball into touch five metres out. From the line out the pack edged forward, setting up winger Matt Evans to get the touch down.
Richmond fought on gamely but could not break the Cornish defence. An intelligent kick by Callum Sirker almost set up Webber but the ball just rolled into touch. By contrast Skinner and substitute scrum half Alex Day brought new control into the visitors’ play. In the 70th minute, Richmond held out a five metre scrum but, when the ball was moved out, full back Moyle again showed his pace to run a wide arc and find a route to the line. Cruelly Richmond were now eight points behind so needed any sort of score to get a losing point. They persisted well into injury time but, despite a line out deep in the 22 after an excellent Dennett kick, they could not make a breakthrough. Inevitably in the final passage of play, the Cornish side steadily worked their way up field till they moved the ball out to the wide right and that man Moyle squeezed in for their fourth try.
Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented;
‘Our squad showed again just how competitive we can be against a team near the top of the Championship. Our scrum and lineout gave us a strong platform to cause the Pirates some real problems. It was great to see Cheeseman and Mitchell returned to our three quarters after long lay-offs and the overall performance was much improved from that at Doncaster. We now need to take the positives from Saturday into this weekend’s important match’
Tries: Goodrick-Clarke, Warden
Team: L.Dennett, C.Sirker (J.Woodward), Mitchell, Cheeseman, Webber, R.Damant (R.Kirby) , L.Jones (J.Gibbs), W.Goodrick-Clarke, R.Freestone (C.Pike) C.Trenier (D.Spelman), W.Warden (T.Saysell), M.Crawford (C.Lenygon) J.Parker , J.Liston, C.Davies.