Richmond 8 London Scottish 19
London Scottish exacted revenge with an eleven point victory over a tenacious Richmond side, leaving honours even for the season. The game was won in the first twenty minutes, the Scots then being three tries up at 19-3. Richmond can take considerable pride that they shaded the score line thereafter and should have at least added another consolation try in the final minutes.
With a strong wind behind them, the London Scots pressed from the kick off. When Richmond kicked out on the full, the Exiles had an early five metre lineout but the home side averted the immediate danger after a penalty decision in their favour. However, the relief was short lived, the wind rebuffing any attempt to establish distance from the far corner. Camped around the 22, the Scots returned to the attack and a scything tackle by Rory Damant was adjudged high. This time, the Scots made no mistake, scrum half Jamie Stevenson touching down after a powerful forward drive. Full back Joe Lydon, on his way to Ealing Trailfinders next season, added a top class conversion.
The second score followed after just eight minutes, Richmond knocking on at a line out before Lydon found the space to beat two defenders on his way to the line, adding a second excellent conversion for a 0-14 lead. Richmond have had a three week break as a result of the cancelled London Welsh game and unsurprisingly looked slightly off the pace in the early exchanges. By contrast, the Exiles looked fired up, powerful up front and full of running.
However, Richmond remained calm and now had their first period of play in the opposition 22. The Scots over hit a long kick and, from the first scrum of the day, Sam Stuart, Rob Kirby and Jono Woodward combined well before the scrum half was tackled into the corner. Matt Corker then stole the line out ball to keep his side on the attack. When the attack was stopped in the opposite corner, Richmond opted for a scrum rather than risk a line out in the high wind. Finally, when the next attack was again stopped illegally, Richmond opted to kick for goal and Kirby obliged, passing a noteworthy 100 points for the season.
Two minutes later, the Scots scored their third try. The kick off ball was taken into touch and the Scots used the position to immediate effect, the powerful Patrick Neale bundling off some indecisive tackles to proffer a one handed scoring pass to fly half Harry Shepherd.
The Scots now looked totally dominant, using the wind to great effect to keep their opponents locked deep in their 22. Somehow Richmond weathered the storm, Jordan Simpson-Hefft pulling off a key tackle and the Exiles making small errors at the line out. Their huge No 8 Ifereimi Boladau made one strong blindside break but his pass to the winger outside him was forward. Still, the Scots pressed and, in the minutes before half time, Richmond were hugely indebted to skipper Will Warden, twice outstanding in key defensive moments.
With the score 3-19 at half time, Richmond still had a chance with the wind now in their favour. However it took a while for them to establish territorial dominance. Perhaps the wind dropped a little or the Scots made better use of it. The situation was not helped by a yellow card for the hard working Ross Grimstone as his side were pushed back into more desperate defence. Jack Allcock, Richmond’s Man of the Match, pulled off a wonderful retrieving dive to stop another dangerous attack.
Finally, in the last half hour, Richmond got on the attack. Substitutes Henry Cheeseman and Tom Sargeant added power and pace and Joe Tarrant never stopped battering forward. The Scots were pressed back but their defence close to the line was magnificent. Richmond were denied quick ball and could not get low enough to get the final vital metre. Two Scottish forwards were sent to the bin and, in the 72nd minute, newcomer Andy Uren, making his debut at scrum half, broke the deadlock, nipping smartly over from a tapped penalty.
In the final minutes, Richmond pounded the Scottish line in search of a consolation point. Fred Gabbitass made one excellent outside break but could not link with the support. Still, the forwards persisted but the Scottish defence was not having it. Finally the ball was moved wide to Cheeseman and he made a good attempt to get in at the corner before referee Ben Blaine whistled for a knock on to end proceedings. Click here for video clips
Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented; ‘The squad are very frustrated with today’s performance. Our execution and precision were not good enough in the first twenty minutes which gave our opponents a huge advantage. I am extremely proud of how we fought back and had certain decisions gone our way we could well have got something out of this game. We need to learn and adapt quickly ahead of a tough away test at Yorkshire Carnegie.’
Team: R.Kirby, J.Simpson-Hefft, R.McLean-Dents, C.Mitchell (H.Cheeseman), J.Woodward, R.Damant (F.Gabbitass), S.Stuart (A.Uren), J.Tarrant (T.Walford), R.Grimstone (R.Townsend), R.Harden , W.Warden,, M.Corker (T.Sargeant), A.Peters, C.Davies, J. Allcock