Bedford Blues 41 Richmond 35
Trailing by 36-14 with just over twenty minutes to go, Richmond fought back with huge spirit to score three tries, claim two precious points and get agonisingly close to the most unlikely of victories. The Blues had dazzled with their speed and running angles for two thirds of the game but they were hanging on at the end as Richmond claimed the kick off ball and once again battered their way forward deep into the 22. The last action of the game featured an attempted Bedford interception as Richmond moved the ball wide. Was it a deliberate knock on ? Referee and assistant conferred and decided not. The final whistle followed immediately.
Richmond kicked off, playing into a strong chilly wind and did not get the start they wanted. An intelligent kick up the touchline by Dean Adamson set up position and, from the lineout, Bedford moved the ball down the line. Once again Adamson was the key man as he found space too easily with a shimmy and needed only the simplest of passes to send in winger Ryan Hutler. USA international Will Hooley added the conversion.
Bedford looked full of confidence, spreading the ball wide at every opportunity. But it was Richmond who scored the next two tries. The back row worked really well together to set up the initial impetus as they escaped their 22. Bedford then conceded a penalty near the half way line and Richmond soon had a five metre line out. The first one was rebuffed but the clearance was scrappy and, given a second chance, the pack set up a good drive. Finally Luc Jones threw a lovely long pass to Lewis Dennett on the touchline and the fly half slipped an equally good pass inside to Ben Rath for a well worked try.
Two minutes later, Jones was again prominent, this time latching on to a loose Bedford ball as they coughed up ball around their ten metre line. Jones juggled for a moment, looked sheepishly over his shoulder and ran clear to the posts. Rob Kirby added the two conversions and Richmond had an unexpected seven point lead. This was quickly cut as, three minutes later, centre Matt Worley did a similar juggle before spotting a gap and accelerating away from 35 metres.
Richmond did not have the same pace in their backs but they threw the ball around at every opportunity in a fast and furious game. The visitors had the next opportunity when Dennett kicked beautifully to set up a five metre line out. But frustratingly muddle ensued, referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded a free kick and the Blues escaped. A minute later, Bedford made no such mistake. Using the wind to pin Richmond back, they won good line out ball before moving the ball wide. Richmond held out right wing Hutler but full back Lane was on hand to get the score.
Once again Richmond had a sequence of close range line outs but could not quite make it count. 17-14 down into the wind looked a reasonable first half position, despite the loss of the influential Will Goodrick-Clarke, but Bedford stuck to the task and scored an injury time try, Adamson stepping imperiously inside to beat the stretched cover defence. Hooley added an excellent conversion.
Richmond started the second half well, Jones chipping a neat ball into space for the outstanding Max Davies to seize possession. Camped in the 22 for five minutes, Richmond barraged the Blues’ defensive line. Mark Flanagan pinched one key line out and the Blues held out, finally booting a loose ball clear. Once again Bedford then displayed their critical ability to finish, Hutler making an initial slashing break before handing on the Lewis Robling, who ran a neat diagonal angle to the line. Now on a roll, the Blues added a sixth try after Hutler again created havoc running from deep. Hooley surely miskicked a diagonal ball to the corner but it bounced perfectly for Worley to claim the try.
Richmond rang the changes as, at this stage, the task appeared to be simply to get the four try bonus. Substitutes Rupert Freestone and Andy Boyce were prominent as Richmond worked their way to the posts. Jones neatly touched down and Dennett added a rapidly taken drop goal conversion. Richmond now looked really pumped up but Bedford still had one score left, the scrum getting a rare advantage to create space for Adamson to score in the corner.
20 points behind, Richmond now took control. Twice Chris Davies, on a good day for Davies, scored close range tries as the team threw everything into attack. Skipper Cam Mitchell led by example, Toby Saysell repeatedly crashed his way forward and Jeremy Cunnew was always in the thick of things. In the final minutes, Richmond somehow worked their way into the home 22 from their ten metre line, knowing an error could cost a point. Through phase after phase, they persisted, getting closer and closer till the controversial knock on. Overall Bedford deserved the win but Richmond’s comeback really was something special and provides plenty of hope for the final two games.
Watch the scores here
Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented; ‘How sad and disappointing that the game finished on such a controversial decision. Everyone in the ground and on the pitch, except the touch judge, believed we should have had a penalty and the Bedford player yellow carded for a deliberate knock on 10 metres from the Bedford tryline with time almost up. To comeback from 36-14 down at Bedford in the last fifteen minutes, having lost three players to injury, showed just how much spirit and desire this group of players possess. I cannot speak more highly of them. Hopefully the decisions will go more our way in the two remaining fixtures’
Tries: Rath, Jones(2), C.Davies(2)
Conversions: Kirby (4), Dennett
Team: R.Kirby, M.Webber, C.Mitchell, H.Cheeseman, B.Rath, L.Dennett (B.Cook), L.Jones (J.Gibbs), W.Goodrick-Clarke (J.Cunnew), R.Grimstone (R.Freestone), C.Trenier (JD.Spelman)), M.Scott (M.Crawford), M..Davies, J..Liston, (A.Boyce) T.Saysell, C.Davies.