Oldest club fixture in history ends with Richmond on the losing side

Wimbledon Guardian: Undeterred: Richmond director of rugby Steve Hill sees an improvement despite defeat   SP62620 Undeterred: Richmond director of rugby Steve Hill sees an improvement despite defeat SP62620

Richmond director of rugby Steve Hill said his charges played the better rugby, despite losing 30-21 to Blackheath in National League One.

The outcome of the oldest club fixture in the world result was not decided until extra time when the Club scored a breakout try as Richmond desperately chased victory.

The crowd of more than 900 again enjoyed drama and excitement throughout, as only the narrowest of margins split the two teams and both sides had plenty of chances to claim the points.

In the end, Blackheath’s extra experience at this level probably determined the result but it was a very close run thing.

Hill said: "Our players gave their all today and this was a significant improvement on our last performance.

"I felt we played by far the best rugby and created some really good chances. Had passes stuck or decisions gone our way we could well have come away with the points.

"To lose even a bonus point in extra time was cruel. However we will bounce back and we now really look forward to the challenge of playing Esher away."

Richmond had a fairly settled side with the only changes being in the backs, where Toby Quarendon and James Kyle returned.

At fly half Luke Cousins earned a thoroughly deserved 100th cap and led the team out.

The game started at a fast pace and the first try came after just four minutes.

Richmond conceded a penalty at an early scrum and this enabled Blackheath to set up in the 22, from where scrum half Jack Walsh made a darting run and when seemingly stopped, freed his arms to feed the onrushing Sam Windsor for a clear run under the posts.

Rory Teague, back in action after two months out with injury, added the points.

Two minutes later, home scrum half Jamie Gibbs showcased his skills with a lovely break and dummy which split the Club defence and forced a penalty converted by Tom Platt.

Back in the game at 3-7, Richmond immediately put themselves back under pressure by dropping the restart and when the forwards were forced to pick and drive their way out of trouble, referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded a penalty for coming off their feet. Teague added the easy points.

Frustratingly another straightforward error cost three more points shortly afterwards when the home side overthrew a line out for the second time and were penalised at the tackle. However Richmond gradually settled down and adjusted to the pace of the game and after nineteen minutes reduced the margin to 6-13.

Full back Platt fielded one of Teague’s huge kicks and ran back at the Club defence who were penalised at the tackle.

Once again the home side looked shaky at the kick off but a quickly taken 22 shortly afterwards very nearly set winger Kyle free and established an attacking position. From the line out the ball was passed down the line and Platt gave James Greenwood a rare run at the opposition.

When the winger was finally held, good support was at hand and quick ball was well fed down the line to number eight JP Attlee, who demonstrated a fine turn of pace to power in at the corner. Platt added an excellent conversion to level the scores.

There was no further score before half time though no shortage of chances. Both kickers had opportunities, Platt hitting the posts, and one lovely long pass seemed to set Kyle free but was perhaps harshly adjudged forward. The unfortunate Cousins did not complete the half, a shoulder knock leading to his replacement by Louis Grimoldby.

When Richmond caught the kick off and won the first line out of the second half, the omens looked positive. The kicking dual soon resumed and Platt was just short before Teague converted an easier opportunity as Richmond put themselves back under pressure with a poor pass.

Five minutes later, Blackheath scored again and there was a major slice of good fortune involved. Teague mishit a scrum penalty and the ball appeared to be rolling harmlessly when a wicked bounce instead set up a prime line out position in the 22.

Club were well organised at the drive and when the initial thrust was held, the forwards bashed their way back to the line to pull in the defence and enable a long pass out wide to find full back Michael Canty in space. Teague’s touchline conversion was to prove significant.

The Richmond pack were working together well , with man of the march Karl Outen prominent, and, half way through the second half, Club lock Tom Bason was yellow carded as he killed Richmond ball in his 22. Platt converted the penalty and his side were just a score down.

A lovely break by Grimoldby should have set up a try but support was slow and frantic handling unproductive. Nevertheless Richmond redoubled efforts and, after good build up play by the pack, Gibbs scampered round the blindside to score in the corner. Platt’s conversion attempt was tantalisingly close and Richmond were now just two points behind with fifteen minutes to go.

Unfortunately that was as good as it got. Richmond created chances a plenty but too often avoidable errors spoiled good build up play. Two missed penalty line kicks and more fumbling of kick offs were frustrating examples and, under formidable pressure from the Club’s aggressive defence, simple handling mistakes were too common.

Richmond never really looked as if they would work their overlaps on the day and, with the clock well into injury time, one last move broke down and substitute Gethin Davies stole in for a match winning try to deny Richmond even a deserved bonus point.
 

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