Richmond 7 – 36 Bedford Blues.

Richmond kicked off their Greene King IPA Championship campaign with a 7-36 defeat playing against a well drilled Bedford Blues XV who dominated the first half but then lost 7-0 to a robust Richmond side in the second-half, writes Paul Kirby.

Seven months ago, on their last visit to Richmond Athletic Ground, Bedford were on the wrong end of a 49-26 score line which left the entire squad feeling, well, blue.

This time though, it was all smiles as a dominating attacking performance in the first half was complimented with a strong defensive display in the second to ensure that demons were banished and Bedford got off to the best possible start.

Richmond although missing key players Rory Damant and Rob Kirby, introduced five newcomers to the league side.

Ben Rath (ex Rotherham and London Scottish) and Luke Jones (ex Harlequins) featured in the backs whilst the pack included Craig Trenier (ex Ulster), Alex Humfrey (ex Bath Academy) and Jake Parker (ex Cornish Pirates).

Start time was at 5.00pm due to the earlier match between London Scottish and Yorkshire Carnegie.

Bedford went into the interval leading 36-0 thanks to a brace of tries from Dean Adamson and one apiece for Ben Cooper, Howard Packman and Tom Lindsay.

Richmond fired back early in the second half thanks to a well worked try by Jason Phipps with Freddie Gabbitass converting. However, Bedford laid on a defensive clinic which ensured a maximum five points from their opening game.

After three minutes for not rolling away, Richmond conceded a penalty converted by Will Hooley.

Two minutes later and it was 0-8 as another penalty went Bedford's way and Hooley sent the ball to the corner. Tom Lindsay found his man with the throw-in and Ben Cooper was on-hand to slam the ball down on the try line.

Richmond’s opposition were certainly enjoying the London sunshine and a fine pitch as they ran in a second try in the 15th minute. Despite being under some pressure, the Blues managed to punt the ball long into Richmond's 22 for a lineout before the forwards did their thing before Dean Adamson's pace allowed him to run under the uprights giving Hooley a simple conversion.

Try number three came just a few minutes later as Howard Packman scored with a well worked effort from the back of a driving maul which Hooley converted making it 0-22.

Richmond's cause wasn't helped when scrum half Luc Jones was carded on the half hour mark for intentionally knocking on the ball as Bedford attacked.

The resulting penalty went to touch and, after the forwards secured possession, Lee Dickson and Michael Le Bourgeois linked up to play in Adamson who darted over with Hooley once again striking the conversion through the uprights.

With the half coming to an end, Richmond briefly went down to 13 as fullback Jordan Simpson-Hefft received a yellow card for the same infringement as Jones.

Once again, Richmond were made to pay as Hooley sent the ball to touch, the lineout functioned perfectly, and the forwards drove over the line with Lindsay coming up with the ball which Hooley duly converted making it 0-36 at the break.

A more attacking Richmond emerged for the second half. Just two minutes in, and a comeback looked to be on the cards with the Jason Phipps try and Freddie Gabbitass converting to cut the deficit to 29 points.

However, Bedford rolled up their sleeves and put on a fine defensive display. Time and again Richmond went on the attack as they enjoyed the majority of possession, but Bedford’s defence stood firm and refused to be breached again.

After a first half best forgotten, Steve Hill’s side will take confidence from their battling second half performance in which they kept a talented Bedford side scoreless.

Steve, Richmond FC’s Director of Rugby, commented; ‘We were too passive in the first half and didn’t show as much energy as we needed to and Bedford took their chances well. But in the second half we showed lots of heart, a good deal of character and I was pleased with our defence. We will need to be at our best from the first minute when we face Ealing next Saturday.’