An exciting new season of Championship rugby could not have started more productively for Richmond at the Athletic ground, writes Paul Kirby.

Richmond claimed the prize and a perfect start gaining four valuable league points to the Scots one losing point in a tough match with no quarter spared.

A delighted Richmond Director of Rugby, Steve Hill commented: “I am really pleased with the boys. Given in comparison our lack of time for preparation, to beat a full time professional squad from London Scottish is a tremendous achievement.

"We were very physical across the squad and simply refused to allow the Scots any real go forward. I thought our scrum was fantastic and our defence was out of this world."

Richmond introduced two new players to their starting line up, Sam Edgerley (ex-Oxford University and Doncaster) on the wing and Ed Milne (ex-London Scottish), who made a fine debut at No 8.

By contrast the Scots, who have gone back to a fully professional squad, featured less than a handful of regular starters from last year. Among their new recruits were two Scottish Internationals, Grayson Hart at scrum half, and Richie Vernon at centre.

Veteran Mark Bright captained the side, having returned from two seasons at Ealing Trailfinders.

In front of a crowd of over 1,500, Richmond got off to the better start, heaving their opponents off the ball at the first scrum to gain an early psychological victory.

In the follow up play Will Warden, as direct as ever, and the probing Luc Jones both made good yards before the Scots conceded the first penalty of the day.

Full-back Rob Kirby made no mistake to give his side a 3-0 lead after just three minutes.

The lead lasted seven minutes. From a turnover on Richmond’s 22, Scots winger Charlie Ingall cleverly chipped the ball over the cover defence and re-gathered at pace to score a good individual try. Fly-half Rory Jennings had a mixed afternoon with the boot and missed the conversion and two further penalties.

Richmond were behind for just two minutes in the whole match, Kirby quickly responding with a second penalty as the Exiles were pinged for obstruction in front of the posts.

The game continued fast and furious, with the Richmond pack in the ascendency and after twenty-two minutes, Kirby added a third penalty from over forty metres after the home forwards drove their opponents back at a scrum.

Richmond now clearly had the edge up front, loose head Will Goodrick-Clarke being adjudged Man of the Match, and their forceful defence continually prompted Scottish errors.

However, in the 32nd minute, Edgerley mistimed his run in pursuit of a box kick and tackled Scots full back Joe Luca-Smith, whilst still in the air. A yellow card was immediately brandished but Richmond held out to half time with no further score. Richmond 9-5 London Scottish.

London Scottish almost scored an early second half try, scrum half Jones producing a fine cover tackle to haul down open side flanker Lewis Wynne as he looked certain to score. Richmond made regular use of the boot to clear their lines and after ten minutes, extended their lead with their opening try.

Kirby used a penalty to get his side within fifteen metres and when Warden secured the line out ball, the pack splintered the defence to get within a metre or two of the line. Ronnie McLean-Dents, a lynchpin of the defence, timed his run to perfection to seize the ball at an angle off Jones and power over. Kirby added the conversion for a 16-5 score line.

The eleven point lead was soon cut as four minutes later, it was a mirror image for Scottish as Grayson Hart touch down with Jennings converting.

The next score looked crucial and it was Richmond who scored it. A handling error under the posts cost the Scots dear. Richmond maintained the pressure and, from a set scrum ten metres out,

Jones foxed his opponent who took a couple of paces to the open side. Jones spotted the gap and scampered diagonally to the blindside corner to score a fine opportunist try. Kirby added a fourth penalty and the lead was now twelve points.

This local derby always seems to feature close finishes and back came the Scots. Under pressure, Richmond conceded a succession of penalties, Warden finally taking the team yellow card.

London Scottish had been denied two tries, one for a foot in touch and one for a knock on but this time a cross kick off the side of the foot found Rob Stevenson in space and the winger touched down close to the dead ball line.

Jennings converted and three minutes remained. Yet again the Richmond pack came up trumps and when they won a penalty thirty metres out, Richmond opted to secure the win and the ball was kicked into touch.

While Rob Kirby’s boot was pivotal for Richmond, and both tries came from the back division, plaudits will inevitably go to the boys up front. From the first minute, when Richmond turned over a London Scottish scrum, the pack never let up, and the set-piece dominance earned territory and penalties time and time again.

Scottish head coach Nic Rouse Saul. “We just weren’t good enough. Too many spilled passes, too many penalties, our second half was better but not good enough to win.”

The delighted Richmond Director of Rugby, Steve Hill added, “It is only a start but by some way our best start in three years in the Championship. The challenge is to improve for the tough trip to Leeds next Sunday and then Doncaster Knights back here the following week.”

Richmond: Tries: McLean-Dents, Jones Conversion: Kirby Penalties: Kirby (4) Team: R.Kirby, J.Woodward, C.Mitchell, R.McLean-Dents, S.Edgerley, R.Damant, L.Jones (J.Simpson_Hefft), W.Goodrick-Clarke (T.Walford), R.Grimstone (R.Freestone), C.Trenier (D.Spellman), W.Warden, C.Lenygon (H.Edwards), J.Parker(T.Saysell), J.Liston, E.Milne.

London Scottish: Tries: Ingall; Hart; Stevenson Conversions: Jennings (2) Penalties: Broadley; Saunders; Palframan; Hodge; Uanivi; Frost; Wynne; Bright (c); Hart; Jennings; Mantella; Duncan; Vernon; Ingall; Smith.

Replacements; Harding; Harris; Cringle; Tyas; Hoadley; Perry; Stevenson