The Breakdown: Richmond Defeat Rams 22-17
By Tim Forrester
Richmond produced an excellent performance to defeat the in-form Rams 17-22 at Old Bath Road.
In front of a crowd of over 1,100, league leaders Richmond were pushed all the way by second placed Rams at their packed home ground but had just enough to earn a vital four points.
Leading 10-12 at half-time, Richmond dominated possession and territory in the second half, continually pounding the defence in the 22. However, Rams’ tackling was magnificent and they fully deserved the one point earned in the final minute. Richmond now have a two point lead over Rosslyn Park with Rams one point further back in third place.
Despite traffic chaos Richmond brought a large contingent of supporters and were warmly welcomed on their first ever visit to the ground. The pitch was heavy but otherwise conditions were ideal for rugby.
Richmond had all the early ball but could make little progress as the home defence quickly demonstrated their intensity and organisation. The first scrum ended in a Rams penalty to provide them with further encouragement. However, Richmond gained equal heart from the first lineout, stolen from Rams, and moved the ball at pace to get into the 22. At the crucial moment they lost possession but Jack Moates’ clearance kick was charged down by skipper Cam Mitchell and quick hands sent in Chris Allman for the opening try after six minutes. Tom Hodgson added the conversion.
Richmond looked full of confidence but three penalties in quick succession put them under pressure and earned a warning from referee Daniel Collins.
Somehow Richmond defended their line and kept out the big Rams runners until Jamie Gibbs was able to kick clear.
Richmond pinched another lineout but almost immediately invited back Rams with another penalty conceded for offside.
Finally Rams took advantage of the possession to work some space on the left and release the speeding Conor Corrigan. The winger made good ground before passing inside to lock Ollie Taylor who touched down wide out.
The crowd did not need the exhortations of the tannoy announcer to get behind their team who, five minutes later, added a second try to take the lead. Fullback Kieran Leicester somehow ran straight through the normally efficient Richmond defence and only a good tackle at the corner prevented the try. However, the ball was quickly recycled and fly-half Alex Seers kicked the ball with great precision to the right corner where Richmond old boy Jak Rossiter simply had to touch down the ball just inside the dead ball line. Crucially the tricky conversion again narrowly missed the target and Rams were leading 10-7 after 21 minutes.
Richmond now resumed attack and again got themselves in prime position five metres out. However, the Rams defence conceded nothing. Richmond’s negative first half penalty count of eight to one kept stalling momentum but, after 33 minutes, they finally added their second try. Allman stole another Rams lineout and the half backs and the hard working Jake Parker took full advantage, getting within ten metres before the ball was released wide to the ever dangerous Hamish Graham who touched down in the corner.
With newcomers Charlie Mulchrone and Kurt Schonert on and the penalty count under control, Richmond now enjoyed a lot of ball and built plenty of chances in the home 22.
However, small errors under pressure prevented a score. When prop James Baker was yellow carded for pulling down the maul, Richmond intensified the pressure, but Rams held out.
Richmond remained patient and were as ever encouraged by some rampaging efforts from Will Warden. Finally, after 30 minutes, Rams conceded their fourth penalty of the second half and Hodgson extended the lead to five points.
Five minutes later, Richmond added a decisive third try. Rams passed forward as they tried in vain to break out of their half.
From a good scrum, Hodgson made a strong break, linking with Mulchrone and Jesse Liston before the ball was moved out to the wide right where Graham was able to put Louis Molloy in at the corner. Hodgson added an excellent conversion.
With little time left, Rams redoubled their efforts. Under pressure, Richmond conceded three quick penalties and Rams had a lineout five metres out. With the whole side involved in the drive, Richmond could not stop Tom Vooght claiming the try and Rams had a compensatory bonus point.
Richmond were naturally frustrated to give away the point but they will take huge pleasure from four precious points fully earned in a really gutsy and wholehearted team display.
Director of Rugby Steve Hill said post-match: “This was a real battle of a game against a good side who had only lost once at home this season. I thought our defence at maul time was outstanding and negated their biggest weapon. We lacked some patience in the first half but dominated in the second without finishing off all our chances. The bench had a strong impact and we thoroughly deserved the win.”
Tickets are now on sale for Richmond’s next home fixture against Bishop's Stortford on Saturday 25th January 2020 (KO 3pm). Click here to purchase your tickets.
Richmond 22 defeated Rams RFC 17
Tries: Allman, Graham, Molloy
Conversions: Hodgson 2
Penalties: Hodgson 1
Other Men’s Results:
Richmond Vikings 62 defeated Rams RFC 2nd XV 12
Richmond Saxons 17 defeated by Ampthill 1881 52
Richmond Normans 15 defeated by Bury St Edmunds 41
Image courtesy of Dante Kim Photography.