Richmond 28 Hartpury 22

It surely is not possible for life to get any better at Richmond FC, writes Paul Kirby.

Two weeks with a double double over tough opposition, this time, securing the match after trailing a very competent Hartpury team by eight points with just two minutes remaining.

In this terrific Championship season, Richmond topped all previous comeback performances with two last gasp tries against the disbelieving Hartpury side. Indeed this Richmond squad never know when they are beaten.

They ended the game scoring fourteen last minute points to secure the maximum five league points, that reinforced their mid table position and send the home crowd into a state of euphoria.

The game started well for Hartpury. They were ahead as early as the 4th minute when a penalty was kicked deep into Richmond territory.

Rob Langley claimed the line out five metres out and the forwards then drove over. It was the Hartpury hooker, William Tanner who got the final touch, and he was on the scoresheet again, barely more than 10 minutes later with Mike Wilcox this time adding the conversion to make the score 0 – 12.

Richmond initially struggled to establish some attacking momentum but it was Jesse Liston supporting a great run by Luc Jones who touched down, only for referee John Meredith to whistle for a double movement.

However early in the second quarter, it was Rob Kirby who picked a good line, taking a text book offload from Cameron Mitchell to streak through a flat-footed Hartpury defence. Kirby added the first of four all-important conversions.

Hartpury despite a long period of ball retention were unable, thanks to Richmond’s admirable defence, to convert pressure into points. That was never more evident than in the closing stages of the half as phase after phase in and around the home 22 yielded nothing more than a single Mike Wilcox penalty to take the score to 7 – 15.

Then as the whistle drew closer, Hartpury gave away an unnecessary penalty in their own half. Kirby kicked to the corner and from the resulting line out, Richmond got the drive on and Ross Grimstone collected their second try.

For all their dominance, therefore, Hartpury had just a one point lead, 14 - 15, at the break.

Hartpury had another attacking period after half-time and in the 52nd minute, the Gloucestershire side increased their lead.

Richmond were again unfortunate to be penalised again for a high tackle as Hartpury’s diminutive scrum-half Harry Randall ducked down. The lineout ball was overthrown, that allowed Alexander Craig to drive over to take the score to 14 – 22.

Into the final quarter and Richmond were getting increasingly frustrated by a string of breakdown penalties, the end count being seven in each half and it was Jack Allcock who was carded for dissent in the 60th minute, but gradually Richmond began to build increasing pressure.

Scrum half Jones broke well into the 22 and, after another barrage by the Richmond forwards, Hartpury’s Tanner was yellow carded in the 67th minute for a no arms tackle.

Richmond’s Jono Woodward then made an amazing break but with Hartpury now seemingly content to play out time they suffered a further blow when their No.8, Darrel Dyer was sin-binned for a cynical foul.

The Richmond forwards were now fully fired up and with Will Goodrick-Clarke in the lead, battered forward and the deserving Jesse Liston claimed the third try, the clock showing 78 minutes as Kirby’s conversion was hastily added. The score 21 - 22.

Surely it was all too late. But no, Jake Parker collected the kick off and set off out of the 22.

The ball was moved wide to Woodward and the winger somehow brushed off a succession of tackles as he powered down the line.

With the crowd willing the team on, Richmond replacement Tobias Saysell made another amazing 50 metre run and with Jamie Gibbs and Man of the Match Rory Damant constantly switching the attack, Kirby sent McLean-Dents through to the line, the huge roar of approval sealing a remarkable win.

Hartpury coach John Barnes said, “Being only a point up at the break when we had good dominance was disappointing”.

Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented; “We showed enormous heart to stay in the game. It is for days like these that we stay in this wonderful game.

"Our general performance was below par and I am confused as to what the officials required at the breakdown. The referee told our Captain there was just over a minute left when Hartpury kicked off a point ahead.

"For this squad to have the patience, skill and resilience to retain possession for 18 phases, take the ball 95 metres up the field knowing any error would see us lose, and then score in the corner to win, shows what it means when they put on a Richmond jersey.”

Nottingham are the visitors to the Athletic ground on Good Friday at 5pm.