Tim Forrester on a tough trip up North
After the high of the opening win against the ‘auld enemy’, Richmond returned to earth with a bump after a tough Sunday visit to Leeds. Yorkshire Carnegie remain one of the most ambitious and best equipped sides in the Championship so it was a tough fixture but Richmond will have been disappointed on the day that they did not play the rugby they are capable of.
With steady drizzle in the air, both sides started without their captains, the suspended Cameron Mitchell replaced by Cameron Hudson and the injured Richard Mayhew replaced by the dual registered Bath lock Will Britton.
Led out by Jesse Liston, Richmond were soon on the defensive, containing a drive from a five metre line out after an early penalty. However Luc Jones was under pressure as he kicked clear and the line out fifteen metres out provided Carnegie with a second chance. Again the drive was held but, when the ball was spread, No 8 Dan Temm was able to squeeze over. Two tacklers had brought him down short of the line but he was able to pick up and touch down by the posts. Brendan Cope converted to give his side a 7-0 lead after seven minutes.
When the home side conceded a free kick at a set scrum, Liston and Jono Woodward made good yards and Carnegie conceded a penalty straight and just over forty metres out. Rob Kirby’s kick slipped just wide. Richmond took more positive encouragement from the next scrum as the pack heaved their opponents off the ball to win a penalty. But handling errors cut short the attack, both sides struggling to hold on to the greasy ball.
Kicking was dominating the game, Cope kicking high and deep to the wings and Jones box kicking up the touchline. The stalemate was broken by a beautifully judged low kick from Jones, threaded through to five metres. However the impressive Cope, recruited from Jersey, cleared with his big boot and another Richmond handling error cost any follow up.
However Richmond continued to press and, after Carnegie confused themselves with movement at a line out, Richmond had a chance to work their way back into the opposition 22. The visitors’ line out was far from secure and a lot of the ball won was scrappy but Ed Milne and Will Warden secured successive lineouts to set the pack up deep in the 22. At last, Richmond went through the phases as they worked their way towards the line. Just as they seemed bound to score, the ball squirted out of hands and Cope cleared into the distance.
Errors continued in the second half even though the sun was now shining. Carnegie missed the kick off ball and then Richmond knocked it on. There were some big collisions as the forwards strove for advantage but neither pack could establish clear domination. It was the Yorkshire side, who scored next and it was a very good try. Richmond were penalised for crossing and Cope put his side into the 22. Richmond were pinged for pulling down the maul, but referee Greg McDonald played advantage. Cope then kicked with precise accuracy to the far right wing and full back Chris Elder timed his run perfectly to steal the ball with apparent ease from the waiting Richmond defence. Cope converted for a 14-0 lead.
Richmond countered quickly. Once again, it started with a penalty, this time at the breakdown. Kirby kicked to fifteen metres and Milne, excellent again, secured the line out ball. The pack steadily worked their way forward until Jones nipped around the back of the maul to touch down. Kirby converted and Richmond were back in the game.
However it was not to be, Cope’s kicking establishing increasing advantage. After 65 minutes, Ronnie McLean-Dents was yellow carded for an involuntary high tackle and Carnegie tightened their grip. Hudson tackled superbly at the corner but when the line out was lost, winger Dan Moor was able to canter in.
Despite looking well out of sorts, Richmond dug in and worked their way close to the line in search of a losing bonus point, Milne and Jones to the fore. However hands again let them down at the critical moment and frustration led to an extra ten metres for a penalty. The Yorkshire side then showed real enterprise, swarming up field with some excellent handling to set No 8 Temm thundering down the touchline. The cover defence half stopped him but there was good support and the bonus try was well scored by substitute Sam Wolstenholme.
Steve Hill Director of Rugby commented; ‘This was a very frustrating afternoon. Why the hosts watered the pitch just ahead of kick off I have no idea but it lead to lots of handling errors from both teams in the first half. Despite being inaccurate in too many areas, to be within seven points with less than ten minutes to play was a tremendous effort at Headingly, especially from our scrum and line defence. To subsequently concede two scores is deeply disappointing. We were good enough to get something out of this game. We will need to address our error count and game management ahead of a tough next home match versus Doncaster.’
Team: R.Kirby (L.Dennett), J.Woodward, C.Hudson , R.McLean-Dents, S.Edgerley, R.Damant,, L.Jones, W.Goodrick-Clarke R.Grimstone (R.Freestone), C.Trenier (D.Spellman), W.Warden (T.Saysell), C.Lenygon), J.Parker(H.Edwards) J.Liston, E.Milne..