Richmond sharpen up for tough start
1:00pm Monday 2nd September 2013 in Sport
Richmond completed their pre-season practice programme with 29-10 triumph at Division Two South promotion hopefuls Hartpury College.
The College side featured a mix of talented young rugby students, leavened with some wise older heads including old Richmond favourite Darren Crompton.
The game was played on firm ground with the temperature in the low 20s and both sides threw the ball around at every opportunity, providing a stern test of fitness in addition to all the familiar challenges of integrating new players.
Richmond started convincingly and totally dominated the first fifteen minutes.
Their first score was created down the left touchline by some good interplay between Rob Kirby(ex-Esher) and Robert Alexander(ex-Blackheath) and was neatly finished by skipper Will Warden, as ever leading from the front.
However Hartpury gradually picked up the pace and, with Richmond too often coughing up possession, were good value for an equalising try after twenty minutes, Jaike Carter finishing off an attack which brushed off too many unconvincing early season tackles.
Three minutes before half time, Richmond at last used a more muscular approach to breach the Hartpury defence, Danny Parkinson picking and driving over after good work from his fellow forwards.
Frustratingly the good work was slightly undone by the concession of a soft penalty in the next minute, Tim Stevenson bringing the score at half time to 10-12.
A much changed Richmond side came out for the second half and again started in very commanding mode, Harison Edwards scoring twice in the first five minutes.
Picking up the pace and running more directly, the forwards set up the first try, Warden, Davies and Edwards all contributing and the second try was created by a swerving break from Matt Keville, Edwards completing the move well with some neat footwork.
Unsurprisingly the game continued to mix the very good with the indifferent as new combinations were established and individuals sought to press their claims for league selection.
The flow of the game was not helped by a ‘team’ yellow card to Greg Drew(ex-Teddington) and the consequence of uncontested scrums, which did seem a nonsense in a practice game.
Nevertheless Jamie Gibbs demonstrated some lovely skill in covering and setting up a counter attack and one tackle from skipper Warden must have been felt throughout the county.
The only other score of the game came from James Greenwood, who followed up a kick ahead to score his first try of the season as the ball bobbled obligingly.
The stage is now set for the first game of the season against local rivals Esher, who had a tough afternoon at the Athletic Ground, losing to the London Scottish by 81-12.
Director of Rugby Steve Hill commented: "This was a valuable run out for the whole first team squad as Hartpury are a very well drilled outfit.
"The performance was a significant improvement on seven days ago and we are now looking forward to the end of the phoney war and the beginning of the real battles.
"The RFU have given us an incredibly tough start, but I know all the players relish the challenge ahead."
Tries: Warden, Parkinson, Edwards(2), Greenwood
Team: R.Kirby(T.Platt), R.Alexander(J.Rossiter), N.Moore(C.Incledon), M.Keville, M.Freeman( J. Greenwood), L.Grimolby, P.Nash(J.Gibbs), J.Gethings( J.Doherty), J.Phipps(G.Drew), D.Parkinson, W.Warden, C.Lenygon(C.Davies), T.George(R.O’Sullivan), H.Edwards, S.Ackroyd( R.Halsall)..