Richmond Men 1st XV
Sat 09 Dec 2023  ·  National League 1
Richmond Rugby
Richmond Men 1st XV
Tries: L Jones (2), L Spring, N Mpiko, T Hitchcock, W KayeConversions: A Burrage (5)Yellow Carded: H Breeze
Match Report: Richmond 40-47 Rams

Match Report: Richmond 40-47 Rams

Dara Kane11 Dec 2023 - 09:57
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By Tim Forrester

Richmond defied a stream of disruptive injuries to get tantalisingly close to a win over league leaders Rams, before conceding a decisive try in the 79th minute. Richmond take two points from the game, remaining in seventh place, whilst Rams retain their league leadership, one point ahead of Chinnor.

Richmond’s starting fifteen had three changes to the side beaten at Chinnor. On the bench, Harry Breeze made his first team debut whilst Lewis Dennett made a welcome return after a spell away in Australia.

Hamish Graham led the team out on his 50th first team appearance. With a strong wind blowing diagonally, Richmond kicked off and got a dream start. One of the centres made a half break and Richmond’s man of the match Luc Jones kicked to within fifteen metres. Rams then made a mess of their line out, allowing Ntinga Mpiko to make valuable yards. The forwards were quickly up in support and Jones nipped round the side for a trademark try. Burrage hit the upright with the conversion.

Rams continued to have early problems with the line out, with Jake Monson disrupting well. Nevertheless, Graham had to be alert to touch down a kick ahead by the speeding Charlie Robson. After seventeen minutes, Richmond extended their lead. The score followed a scrum penalty and then a second penalty as the driving maul was pulled down. Henry Cheeseman then powered his way deep into the 22 before the forwards barraged the line, staying admirably patient and accurate. Luke Spring finally got the touchdown and Burrage added two points for a twelve point lead.

With the defence working well and steadily pushing Rams backwards, Richmond seemed to be in good control, but Rams had real pace on the wings and Swedish international Axel Kalling-Smith almost got away on the right touchline. He was stopped on the home 22 but centre Ellis Jones broke a tackle to score in the follow up play and Fraser Honey converted.

Richmond were then disrupted by a sequence of injuries. With Jones nursing his forearm, Mark Bright took a bang on the knee and Ethan Benson and Will Kaye collided, requiring Benson to take an HIA. In the general mayhem, Rams set up five metres out and Richmond were forced back, defending phase after phase. When Xavier Hastings got the turnover there were wild celebrations. Frustratingly, Richmond then gave too much space in the follow up play to the dangerous full back Henry Bird and an excellent pass off the floor set up Robson for the touchdown and a 12-14 scoreline.

With the game wide open, Rams struck first in the second half. This time it was winger Kalling-Smith who made the break, scything through the defence to reach the 22 before he was tackled by Kaye. However, Rams were quickly up in support and substitute hooker Ant Marris was able to bundle over.

Richmond had to make copious changes to cover the injuries and when substitute Vaughan Bentley joined the casualties, more positional change was required. Despite this, the side battled on with great heart and got the next try as the sides traded score for score. This time Richmond turned over possession on the left and gained a penalty. From a tap and go, the forwards burrowed deep till star man Jones again sniped over from close range. The lead was back to two points.

Rams full back Bird was looking full of confidence in attack, and he scored the next try two minutes later, timing his entry into the line to perfection to accelerate clear through the home defence.

Once again Rams had a nine point lead, but Richmond were far from finished. A five minute assault on the Rams line finally resulted in the first yellow card for the visitors and a try for Mpiko, who is having a very good season in a strong front row. However, it was all nip and tuck now, with Rams re-establishing their cushion of a nine-point lead. A debatable turnover provided the chance to kick to the home 22. From the line out, they followed up really well, cleverly working space out wide to send in Robson on the far touchline.

The conversions were now key and both Honey and Burrage were outstanding, nailing a long sequence of touchline efforts in the strong wind.

Still, the game was undecided. Graham was inches from scoring before the powerful Tom Hitchcock, in his best display yet, thumped the ball down in the corner for a 31-35 score line with nine minutes to go. From the touchline, the nerveless Burrage added the conversion. Rams had suffered a second yellow card in their desperate defence and were now down to thirteen.

Roared on by their faithful, Rams had around seven minutes to defend or extend that two point lead. A Richmond high tackle provided them with a perfect opportunity. They kicked for the corner and, when the driving maul collapsed, referee Tim Allatt had no doubt it was a penalty try and a yellow card for Breeze.

At 33-42, the game seemed decided but there were two tries to come in the final five minutes. Richmond had the dominant pack, but the Rams defence stayed tight and manfully resisted the forwards’ assault on the line. Finally, Henry Cheeseman broke the spell with a cross kick to the corner. It looked bound for touch, but Kaye somehow reached it and got the touchdown. Richmond needed the conversion to cut the lead to two points again. However, it was on the right touchline, tough as can be for a right footed kicker. Burrage nailed it magnificently.

With just two minutes to go, a defiant Richmond had a chance. But Rams didn’t let them out of their half and, when Richmond drifted offside, the visitors exacted full punishment, hooker Max Hayman able to celebrate at the back of the pack after a five-metre line out. For the first time, Honey missed the conversion and Richmond at least had the small consolation of two points after the tightest of games.

Head of rugby Rob Powell commented:
I am pretty proud of the lads. You can’t fault their effort and application today. We had an unusual amount of adversity today with injuries, especially in the forward and this resulted in backs playing in the forwards.

We are disappointed not to win but you can’t fault the effort against the top team. It was some technical things we got wrong today, along with some missed tackles. But, if we show that level of commitment and ability to overcome adversity in the rest of the season, we will be in a good place’.

Tries: Jones (2), Spring, Mpiko, Hitchcock, Kaye
Conversions: Burrage (5)

Team: O’Meara, Graham, Cheeseman, Hitchcock, Kaye, Burrage, Jones, Spring, Post, Mpiko, Monson, Bright, Wills, Hastings, Benson

Replacements: Bentley, Maguire, Breeze, Marsh, Dennett

Match details

Match date

Sat 09 Dec 2023




National League 1

League position

Team overview
Further reading