Richmond forced a brilliant bonus point victory in the second round of the B & I Cup with a thumping 35-5 success over Rotheram, writes Paul Kirby.

This result all the more remarkable after Rotherham Titans 28 – 23 win over Irish champions Connacht last week and their XV enforced with Wasps players, Tom Willis, Will Porter and prop Jake Pope from Sale Sharks.

Steve Hill, Richmond FC’s Director of Rugby, commented; “This win was based on an excellent defensive effort throughout the match. Needless penalties meant we had to spend a huge amount of time defending in our 22m area but to only give up five points says much about the desire of the squad to deny the opposition.

When we got our hands on the ball we scored some cracking attacking tries. We have been working to bring more offloading onto our attacking game and I thought our execution and decision making in this area showed huge improvements. The icing on the cake was the fantastic goal kicking of Rob Kirby.”

Thirteen changes from last week led to a simply marvellous performance in difficult windy conditions, making it four wins from the last five fixtures. After a tough Championship baptism last season the amateur but now experienced Richmond lads are playing some wonderful team rugby and the entire squad are absolutely clear in their individual roles. Indeed this Richmond team have grown into an ensemble of selfless stars.

Rotherham putting Richmond under intense early pressure scored after 10 minutes what was to be their first and only try, centre Joe Barker passing to scrum-half Will Porter who opened up Richmond’s defence allowing winger Jamie Cooke to score in the corner.

The conversion was missed as were two further Rotherham penalties in the swirling wind. Rotherham enjoyed possession for most of the half but immaculate Richmond defence prevented Titans adding to their score. In fact it was Richmond’s hooker Jason Phipps, ably supported by his pack that made good ground and after a series of pick and drives, allowed Rhodri Adamson to score Richmond’s opening try.

Kirby’s first conversion looked wide of the posts till it changed direction in mid-flight and gave Richmond a 7-5 lead on 35 minutes.

With this narrow lead at half time Richmond came out recharged, giving a performance of shape, structure and, above all, suffocating pressure, scoring their second try after just four minutes.

Swan was the originator, making a fine interception, breaking well down the centre in a great phase of running rugby with Kirby and Adamson before finding Ronnie McLean-Dents who released Adamson who was stopped just short, but Jono Woodward hit the line at pace to score the try of the game, converted by Kirby using his right boot like Prospero’s staff.

Five minutes later, the Titans added to their problems when a poor kick out of defence was smartly picked up by Simpson-Hefft and quickly moved to the deserving debutant Swan for his first try. The visitors still had their moments and Richmond were twice grateful to Woodward for strong defence out wide. The home back row played a key role too, with Toby Saysell always in the thick of things. The flanker got the fourth try after 60 minutes, tearing through at pace after the pack drove from a line out.

The final try came in the 64th minute, Woodward and McLean-Dents slicing Rotherham apart before Kirby found a gargantuan hole and made a good twenty metre break. Held up within inches of the line, the full back found support from Martin Freeman before Ross Grimstone, playing his 50th first team game, appropriately completed the scoring, diving in under the posts.

Kirby almost created another try for Woodward, the winger’s foot just clipping the touchline but the visitors held out; both sides ending with fourteen men, after Charlie Maddison and Joe Tarrant got yellow cards in the 74th minute for a silly scrum melee.

Post-match Titans Director of Coaching, Andy Key reflected, “I was pleased with the first 30 minutes of the game, we scored a good try but was disappointed that we didn’t convert our good possession into more points. Richmond then scored several tries in a short period that was tough on our lads”.

Richmond now have the pleasure of two Friday night 7.45pm fixtures, the first at Nottingham and then a gap of one week before hosting Doncaster Knights on Friday November 10th. Please ensure to mark your diary at this exciting time.

Referee: Mike Hudson

Richmond: 15 Rob Kirby, 14 Jono Woodward, 13 Cameron Mitchell, 12 Ronnie McLean, 11 Jordan Simpson-Hefft (Freeman 61), 10 James Swan (Gabbitass 51), 9 Rhodri Adamson (Grant 65), 1 Jeremy Cunnew (Goodrick-Clarke 49), 2 Jason Phipps (Grimstone 49), 3 Craig Trenier (Tarrant 49), 4 Will Warden (Crawford 65), 5 Alex Humfrey, 6 Jesse Liston (Trenier 76), 7 Toby Saysell, 8 Jake Parker.

Replacements: 16 Ross Grimstone, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Max Crawford, 19 Callum Grant, 20 Freddie Gabbitass, 21 Martin Freeman, 22 Joe Tarrant.

Tries: Adamson, Woodward, Swan, Saysell, Grimstone Conversions: Kirby 5 from 5

Titans: 15 Ben Foley, 14 Wesley Hamilton (Millar 49), 13 Yiannis Loizias, 12 Joe Barker (Capt.) (Vieira 68) (Murphy 76), 11 Jamie Cooke, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Will Porter, 1 Tom Williams (Foster 73), 2 Jonny Murphy (Maddison 50), 3 Brandon Palmer (Pope 59), 4 James Lasis (Postlethwaite 50), 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Tom Willis, 7 Adam Peters, 8 Tom Burns (Calladine 65).

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Jake Pope, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Tom Calladine, 21 Francisco Vieira 22 Lee Millar.

Tries: Cooke