The Breakdown: Richmond Beaten By Rosslyn Park
By Tim Forrester
Richmond suffered their second defeat of the 2019/20 season, falling to 13-18 defeat to local rivals Rosslyn Park.
Despite a late Richmond rally, second placed Rosslyn Park deservedly claimed the honours against table toppers Richmond in front of an impressive crowd of 1,495.
With league points vital, Richmond will take comfort from claiming a losing point and denying Rosslyn Park a fourth try. Richmond remain top of the table, four points clear of Park with Blackheath losing ground in third place.
On a rare dry day, Park started much the stronger and were 0-10 up after just 17 minutes. The damage was done at the lineout, where the experienced Sam Twomey and Gregor Gillanders totally dominated first half possession. The loss of their own ball at the first lineout clearly unnerved Richmond and enabled Park to start with their tails up. The tricky Craig Holland made an early weaving break to provide his side with further encouragement.
The first try came after eight minutes. Richmond were penalised at the breakdown and Park worked their way up the touchline. When they secured good lineout ball from Hugo Ellis, Holland threaded a well-judged grubber towards the corner. With the weight of the kick providing few options, the covering Rob Kirby was forced into touch. From the lineout, the Park pack drove forward, swivelling to get the momentum after being initially held. Hugo Ellis got the touchdown but the conversion was wide.
With two more of their own lineouts going wrong, Richmond remained on the back foot. Conversely Park secured quality ball and another neat kick ahead forced Dan Kelly into touching down for a five metre scrum. When Ellis was firmly stopped by the ever abrasive Toby Saysell, Holland tried a kick to the corner. Once again, the kick was beautifully judged and the oncoming Nick Scott had a relatively straightforward chance to out-jump Kirby and touch down in the corner.
With everything having gone right in the first quarter, Park missed touch with a penalty and Kirby provided a monster riposte to get his side close to the 22. However, Park managed to spoil the lineout. Richmond’s day got worse as David Banfield had to be replaced and a Dennett penalty was athletically knocked back and kept in play.
However, bit by bit, Richmond now dragged themselves back into the game, Kelly beating his man to make good ground and Richmond following up with a sequence of phases. Richmond just about claimed the honours at the set scrum and when a free kick was awarded against Park, a fired up Jesses Liston tapped and ran straight. Park were penalised in defence and Kirby reduced the lead to seven points. Given the lack of possession, Richmond would have happily taken this as the half-time score but a high tackle half way out on the home ten metre line, gave Holland an ambitious penalty kick and he nailed it.
Richmond had clearly reviewed their lineout organisation at half-time but Max Crawford was penalised as he contested the first throw of the half. However, Holland missed a fairly straightforward kick. Two minutes later, Crawford did secure good lineout ball and Park were pinged for offside in the follow up. Kirby made no mistake. An exchange of kicks then followed and Park kicked straight out after taking the ball into the 22. Richmond had another chance and worked their way promisingly deeper into the 22. The next play was the decisive moment of the game as Park secured a turnover.
The ball was quickly switched left. Joe Munro was well tackled but managed to offload to Henry Cheeseman, who in turn took the tackle but got a pass out to Dave Lewis. From the stand, this pass looked undoubtedly forward but the officials were chasing back and the angle would have been less obvious. Lewis now kicked towards the try-line and fullback Henry Robinson just managed to beat the Richmond cover support to get the touchdown. Regardless of the pass, the ambition shown merited the try.
Park had another relatively simple penalty but Holland thumped the post. Richmond stuck to the task and created chances. Around the 60th minute, quick hands from the backs finally prised the Park defence open and the speeding Chris Allman found himself in space with two men outside him and one defender to beat. The pass was delayed too long. However, Richmond persisted and Tom Hodgson charged down Robinson’s clearance to get within a metre or two of the line. The forwards stayed patient and the deserving Liston, Richmond’s Player of the Match, got the try, converted by Kirby.
With fifteen minutes to go and Dave Lewis now yellow carded, Richmond could still have won the game. However sequences of aerial ping pong could not secure the territorial position needed. Both sides made mistakes as the tension rose. Park wanted the try bonus and had a five metre line out with two minutes to go. The Richmond pack firmly rebuffed the drive and Park finally had to settle for a net gain of three league points.
Director of Rugby Steve Hill said: “The players are extremely disappointed with today’s performance. We lacked accuracy and discipline. Park took their chances well and deserved the win. Us gaining a losing bonus point and holding them to three tries may end up being helpful but the loss hurts.”
Richmond will now look to bounce back strongly away against Sale FC on Saturday (KO 2pm).
Meanwhile, the Richmond Vikings continued their incredible start to the season, clinching a 35-10 victory of the Park 2nd XV, to remain unbeaten after ten matches.
Richmond 13 defeated by Rosslyn Park 18
Conversions: Kirby 1
Penalties: Kirby 1
Rosslyn Park 18
Tries: Ellis, Robinson, Scott
Penalties: Holland 1
Other Richmond Men’s Results:
Richmond Vikings 35 beat Rosslyn Park 2nd XV 10
Richmond Saxons 19 defeated by Cambridge 26
Richmond Jutes 71 beat Cobham 10
Image courtesy of Liela Hamilton-Dakar