With any Santa hats getting a relentless soaking, Richmond and Rosslyn Park fought out a dour and dogged derby match, the visitors claiming the bragging rights with an efficient and totally committed performance in a 28-7 win at the Athletic Ground.
Park clinically accepted the few chances offered and presented a defensive wall which Richmond could find no way through.
Richmond will not face many tougher opponents in this league and can take modest consolation from denying their opponents an extra bonus point.
Richmond again rung the changes with four new faces from the previous week’s victory at Tynedale.
One was enforced with Rory Damant unavailable within the terms of his loan and he was replaced by Duncan Peters, returning after a long spell away travelling.
Will Browne(back from injury), Chris Davies and James Kyle were the other new starters.
Both sides made early errors in the tricky conditions, Park kicking out on the full, a mistake which they repeated several times.
Richmond could gain no advantage and were three points behind after three minutes.
Fly half Scott Sneddon kicked a forty metre penalty after Richmond were adjudged to have come straight off their feet at the tackle.
Early frailties at the line out put further pressure on the home team and they were indebted firstly to Warren Abrahams for a well timed tackle into touch and then to man of the match Will Warden as he stopped a diagonal Hugo Ellis run in the 22.
A slightly nervous looking Richmond side were given a boost by a typical barnstorming run from Will Browne, supported by Rob Alexander, but the move broke down with a forward pass.
With Park getting a definite edge in the scrums and Richmond conceding too many penalties, it was no surprise when the visitors extended their lead to 0-6.
A crunching tackle by Jason Phipps set up a potential turnover but his team were penalised in the ensuing maul and Sneddon had a straightforward kick.
The real damage was done in the final two minutes of the half. Richmond would have felt well in the game if they had turned round 0-6 down but, after commendably withstanding a prolonged Park attack, a loose clearance kick handed back prime attacking ball.
The visitors showed their class as they ran the ball to the right, Sneddon finding his winger with a neat grubber, before moving the ball back to left with a big overlap from which Ed Lewis-Pratt cut in for the try half way out.
The lead was further increased in the first five minutes of the second half, Sneddon kicking his third goal as Richmond were warned over not releasing at the tackle.
As Richmond remained frustrated by conceding too many penalties, Park struck again to seal the match.
When Richmond lost another of their own line outs, scrum half Matt Heeks nipped round an ensuing scrum and made good ground into the 22.
Once again Park were precise in their finishing, Sneddon kicking neatly to the unguarded right wing where Charlie Broughton had a simple job to gather and touch down.
0-21 down, Richmond now introduced Jamie Gibbs and Harison Edwards and they added some snap to the attack as Park were forced increasingly back on the defensive.
Louis Grimoldby replaced Rob Kirby minutes later and the home side’s only try followed just before the half hour.
Inevitably the score followed a prolonged period of battering and bruising attack by the forwards.
Park defended as if their lives depended on it and only when they lost flanker Harry Broadbent to a yellow card, did Richmond finally breach the defence.
Referee Dean Richards awarded a penalty try as the home side collapsed the retreating scrum and Grimoldby hastily added the conversion.
With the deficit fourteen points, Richmond upped their game in pursuit of a bonus point. It was not to be.
With Broadbent still off the pitch, the visitors were awarded another penalty at the tackle and Sneddon took a kick from fifteen metres out.
The ball drifted left and when it came back off the post, centre Paul Mackey was superbly positioned to catch and sprint over under the posts.
Whilst it was undoubtedly fortunate, the player deserves full credit for his quick reactions.
Sneddon’s conversion took the score to 7-28 and, whilst a hard working Richmond side dominated the final ten minutes, Park were not conceding anything and the score remained unchanged at the final whistle.