Richmond 0 - 24 Ealing Trailfinders

Unsurprisingly after a deluge of rain the Richmond Athletic Ground rapidly became a mud-bath that allowed a competent Ealing team a perfect record finishing as top seeds in the hosts final B&I Cup match, writes Paul Kirby.

In wet and windy conditions an expansive game was never looking likely, and tries from Alun Walker, Luke Daniels, Peter Lydon and James Cordy Redden meant that the visitors recorded their sixth win from six matches in the competition and are favourites to win the competition.

It was their defence that received most of the plaudits, limiting Richmond to a scoreless 80 minutes after a relentless performance. Richmond who were missing a number of regular players including skipper Will Warden, kicked off with the rain lashing down.

Although the home side mounted early attacks, it was the visitor’s hooker, scot Alun Walker who after an old fashioned catch and drive opened the scoring after six minutes. Full back Luke Daniels added the extras.

There was barely anything between the two teams in the first half and it looked too close to call. Richmond locks Chris Davies and Alex Humfrey provided good possession. In defence Liston, playing flanker in Jack Allcock’s absence, was outstanding and he, Ross Grimstone and Luc Jones played some terrific rugby.

Indeed Ronnie McLean-Dent provided the space for Richmond full-back Rob Kirby to run clear and score an excellent try in the 39th minute that was cancelled out for a highly debatable knock-on. That should have levelled the half-time score as the ball clearly came off the full-back’s knee.

With replacements coming on for Richmond, Ealing had the better of the second half. Luke Daniels scored an individual try on the 45 minute mark to give his team some breathing space.

His conversion went wide but the visitors now held a 12-0 lead, which in the conditions was a commanding one. Three minutes later Peter Lydon crossed the try-line to extend the lead, this time Daniels converted, and edged Ealing 19-0 in front.

Their bonus point score was secured after 55 minutes with a set move try from James Cordy Redden, the conversion going wide.

With the bonus point in the bag it was the strong Ealing defence that took over as Richmond looked for a way back in to the match, but the visiting forwards absorbed a huge amount of pressure to ensure that the clean sheet was intact.

A penalty award against Richmond stopped them scoring a late try with four minutes remaining. It was met with huge cheers from Ealing who had soaked up phase after phase, with defensive effort throughout the 80 minutes.

Summing up after referee Christophe Ridley blew the final whistle, the best aspect of the Cup for Richmond has been the opportunity to give game time to a wider squad selection.

Mike Kovacic, Richmond’s first Slovenian international made his debut in the last third of this match.

Ealing head coach Alex Codling said, “It’s extremely tough conditions out there with both sides showing grit and desire which was a joy to watch. Our cup campaign’s been good so far, we’re taking it very seriously to go as far as we can”.

Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented: “I was pleased with much of our first half performance and to be within a score at the break was encouraging.

"Conceding two tries within seven minutes of the restart was disappointing and from there we were playing catch up.

"Ealing have enormous strength in depth and stand a good chance of winning this competition. We need to now focus on a very tough trip to Jersey then our next match at home against Rotherham on 10th February.

Richmond: R.Kirby, M.Freeman, C.Mitchell, R.McLean-Dents (R.Damant), J.Simpson-Hefft, J.Swan, L.Jones(R.Adamson), J.Cunnew (W.Goodrick-Clarke), R.Grimstone (J.Phipps), J.Tarrant (C.Trenier), C.Davies, A.Humfrey (M.Scott), J.Parker, J.Liston, H.Edwards (M.Kovacic).