Richmond's Kirby saves the day and spares his flanker’s blushes in historic clash

3:00pm Friday 14th March 2014

By Stuart Amos

Flanker Harison Edwards might have gone from zero to hero on Saturday to rescue a share of the spoils for Richmond on Saturday, but it was a nerveless 22-year-old who spared his blushes.

Full back Rob Kirby converted Edwards’ late try to secure a 31-31 draw with Blackheath as the two teams celebrated the 150th anniversary of rugby’s oldest rivalry with a thrilling game at the Athletic Ground.

Richmond had battled back from 24-10 down to level the scores in the second half – through tries from Jeremy Cunnew and Matt Kelville – when Edwards was yellow carded for a clumsy trip with 20 minutes remaining to pave the way for the visitors to go seven points up.

He returned from the sinbin to score in the last minute and give Kirby the chance to secure three valuable points for director of rugby Steve Hill’s men.

Wimbledon Guardian:

Hero: Richmond's Rob Kirby passes the ball along the line

And the former Southend man, the club’s leading points scorer this term with three tries and 126 points from his boot, admitted his side had only themselves to blame for leaving it so late.

“With the amount of pressure we put ourselves under, to come out with three points in the end was a good result,” he said.

“We know with the ball in hand that we are a match for anyone, but we did not keep control of the ball well enough.

“There has really been so much hype surrounding this game, with a big crowd expected, but we had to treat it like another game.

“I think we were celebrating more out of relief than anything else.

“They had been in form so it was great just to get something out of the game.”

Kirby has starred in the number 10 shirt at times this season, but switched to full back at the weekend to accommodate Rory Damant at fly half.

And he was more than happy to step aside given his key contribution late in the day.

“I haven’t really got a preference where I play really,” he added.

“As long as I’m playing, getting my hands on the ball and the team is winning, I don’t mind. I’m happy to do whatever for the team.”

Wimbledon Guardian:

Moment in time: The game marked the 150th anniversary of the oldest rivalry in rugby, a fact the players observed with a minute’s applause to kick-off at the Athletic Ground  SP81836

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