Richmond 22 Bristol 57

What a game. Richmond and Bristol fought out a wonderful match of end to end rugby played in a swirling wind in the last home Championship game of 2017, writes Paul Kirby.

For Richmond to gain a four try bonus point after 32 minutes against a team fielding nine full internationals, including the likes of All Black Steven Luatua returning from a rib injury, showed the calibre of your local team.

Chris Davies, injured in the second-half played his 200th game at lock for Richmond.

Bristol scoring three first-half tries managed to level the score to an amazing 22-22 at the half but Richmond sadly depleted through injury in the second-half, then conceded three more early tries, two while down to 14 men giving Bristol the final say.

Premiership bound Bristol were slow out of the blocks and Richmond took full advantage as Jon Woodward dived over in the corner after just eighty seconds for one of the season’s quickest tries.

Bristol hit back immediately when Aussie wing Luke Morahan raced on to Tongan centre Siale Piutau’s grubber kick to level the scores, before Alapati Leiua sent Jordan Williams in for the first of an impressive hat trick.

But the game swung back with pressure from Richmond hooker Ross Grimstone allowing winger Woodward to steal the ball from Leuia and to cross for his, and Richmond’s, second try on 23 minutes.

A penalty for Bristol put them ahead, but back came Richmond. Rob Kirby neatly broke down the blind side of a scrum to free up Cameron Hudson who put Jordan Simpson-Hefft in at the corner that edged his side back into the lead.

Two minutes later Luatua’s inside pass sent Williams in on the half-hour mark, but Richmond ensured they’d have the first and last say of the half when Luc Jones burrowed over from close range to level the scores. Simpson-Hefft was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and was sent to the bin in an amazing 40 minutes.

The half time interval seemed to serve Bristol well, and after their slow start to the first half, the visitors sprang into action in the second against what had become a depleted Richmond side finishing with fourteen men and a seven man pack with two hookers, and no locks.

Jordan Crane, ex-Leicester, collected a loose ball, to score on 46 minutes, before Williams completed his hat trick two minutes later.

Good ball retention in the Richmond 22 saw Steven Luatua touchdown on 53 minutes, before Luke Morahan’s break from deep that allowed Irish International fly half Ian Madigan to place a cross-field kick to Tusi Pisi in space, passing to Mat Protheroe who scored the try.

Morahan and Protheroe combined once again to gift Protheroe another, as Bristol maintained their 100 percent league record.

Richmond Director of Coaching, Steve Hill said: “I was very pleased with the first-half, we showed ambition and precision. In the second half the decisions started to go against us and there were a number of breakdown issues.

"We gave Bristol a huge fright. I cannot believe they even considered conceding four tries before half time. In the second half losing eight players to injury certainly hindered our cause but the players never gave up. Bristol showed their true calibre.

"I am extremely proud of this group of players who in the last two weeks have scored eight tries against the best two teams in the league and secured two valuable bonus points.”

Richmond play in the B&I Cup before flying out to Jersey on January 27 for their return fixture. Then on February 10 Rotherham are the next visitors to the Athletic ground with an earlier 2pm start.