Richmond 11 Rotherham Titans 3

Richmond in terrible wet windy conditions recorded their season championship double over Rotherham Titans that now leaves them not only a heady seventh in the table but also 24 points above their professional opponents, writes Paul Kirby.

Richmond built their foundation on solid set-piece and fine territorial kicking from full-back Rob Kirby.

The slippery conditions restricted attempts for either side to play any free-flowing rugby and lots of kicking from both teams meant the game was not one for the purists.

Richmond’s skipper Will Warden made a welcome return after injury but his side remained short of two or three regular first pick players.

There was a further late change for Richmond as Will Goodrick-Clarke pulled out with illness to be replaced by Callum Grant.

The Titans came under pressure at the line out and Richmond’s array of jumpers, especially Chris Davies and Max Crawford, caused great disruption to the visitors’ ball.

In a tight, low-scoring contest, the only points in the first half came from the kicking tee inside the first 15 minutes. Following Lee Millar’s opening effort on 9 minutes; Richmond’s Rob Kirby knocked over two of his own shortly after, leaving the half-time score at 6-3.

Conditions in the second-half never improved and when a loose Rotherham kick was dropped and knocked on, Kirby gathered the ball from the Richmond scrum and set up his team in the visitors 22.

The home side pressed on and a well taken line-out to number eight Chris Davies went through to Jeremy Cunnew who slipped a ball out wide and neat hands gave Jono Woodward space to sprint in at the corner for his 11th try of the season.

Rotherham tried everything to get back into the game but the home defence was excellent, Will Warden always an imposing presence. Man of the Match Ronnie McLean-Dents made some wonderful takes in the air and was a key man in defence, his tackle on Rotherham’s Jake Henry saving a likely try.

After 67 minutes, Warden was replaced by Harry Edwards, who reached the admirable landmark of 100 first team appearances.

Jamie Gibbs worked prodigiously in defence and attack and was also substituted in the closing minutes, to be replaced by Callum Grant.

The latter worked intelligently with his forwards to ensure there was no repeat of last week’s Jersey game and the Titans were pinned back in their own half as the final whistle ensued.

Steve Hill, Richmond Director of Rugby, commented; ‘We knew this would be a tough encounter and so it proved to be. I am really pleased with the patience and concentration shown by our squad.

"At half time we talked about improving our discipline and the positive response by the players ensured we kept our visitors under pressure for virtually the whole second half. Warden led from the front in the pack whilst Ronnie McLean-Dents was immense at inside centre.

Seventh place in the table and our first ’double’ win of the season will make for an enjoyable couple of training sessions ahead of a tough trip this coming Saturday to Leeds."

Speaking post-match Titans’ head coach Nic Rouse explained, “Our line out has functioned really well for some time, but today I think some of our decision making in that area was a bit poor.

"Unfortunately though, we made 24 errors in the game and gave away 11 penalties and when you do that you don’t really deserve to win a game of rugby and that was the story today. To be fair to Richmond they managed the game far better than we did."

Richmond Try: Woodward Penalties: Kirby (2) Richmond’s team: 15 Rob Kirby, 14 Jono Woodward, 13 Cam Mitchell, 12 Ronnie McLean, 11 Jordan Simpson-Hefft, 10 Rory Damant, 9 Jamie Gibbs (Grant 65), 1 Jeremy Cunnew, 2 Ross Grimstone (Phipps 40), 3 Joe Tarrant (Trenier 54), 4 Will Warden (Capt) (Edwards 68), 5 Max Crawford, 6 Jake Parker, 7 Jesse Liston, 8 Chris Davies.

Replacements: 16 Jason Phipps, 17 Craig Trenier, 18 Myles Scott, 19 Rhodri Adamson, 20 James Swan, 21 Harison Edwards, 22 Callum Grant.