Hartpury exacted revenge for their 38-12 defeat at the Athletic Ground with a 36-12 win at the Gilman’s ground.

Hartpury take five points but remain below Richmond on points difference.

Both teams have seven games to play in tough looking fixture lists.

The Richmond team, balancing rugby with full time jobs, had the challenge of a long journey west on a Friday evening. There were two changes to the starting XV, Rob Kirby and Jono Woodward promoted from the bench. Hartpury fielded eleven loan players in their match day 22, players being hastily called up from Bristol, Gloucester and Worcester to bolster the side.

Both sides started nervously in front of the Sky cameras. If they were not already aware of the threat of Bristol’s Mat Protheroe at full back, Richmond were reminded when he set up an early lightning attack down the left wing and then followed with a neat kick into space to set up a line out on the 22. Max Crawford did well to steal the throw in and enable Luc Jones to clear.

However the lesson seemed to be wasted when Richmond then came up in rather measured style behind a long Jones box kick. As a result Protheroe had fifteen metres of clear space and he needed no further invitation to run at the bigger forwards and slice through the first line of defence. Once over the half way line, the full back threw a pass wide to the supporting centre Charlie Powell, another Bristol recruit. Powell showed his class cutting in and then out to beat three tackles and retain his balance to dive over in the corner. It was a very good try, created by two fine pieces of individual skill.

Richmond’s style was more workmanlike but they showed their potential working through several phases before moving the ball to the wide left. Chris Davies and Henry Cheeseman, both outstanding throughout, created the initial impetus, before Cameron Mitchell, Kirby and Will Warden moved the ball wide to Marcus Webber. The winger did very well to skip inside and get within two metres of the line. When he was finally tackled, Richmond needed quick ball to complete the move but Ben Foley made no effort to roll away and he was yellow carded. The frustration was then compounded when, at the five metre line out, a muddle and delay between hooker and jumper was punished with an opposition free kick.

Richmond continued to create chances, the forwards with Will Goodrick-Clarke generally to the fore, clearly dominating the early scrums and mauls though less consistent at the line out. After 18 minutes, Hartpury conceded two successive penalties, one at the set scrum and one at the line out. Richmond opted to kick for goal but Kirby pulled a fairly routine kick. Two minutes late, Rory Damant threw a nice long pass wide to Davies and Webber again showed his neat footwork to get close. This time the winger flung the ball out as he was tackled, the pass falling just behind the support.

Five minutes later, Hartpury scored their second try. A piece of magic by Protheroe, chipping and chasing, had required a fine piece of covering by Jones and Mitchell. Richmond then had a chance to clear but their line out throw was crooked. The opposition throw in did not look a lot straighter but the alert Harry Cochrane nipped off the back of a maul to find Foley running diagonally through a big defensive gap. Lloyd Evans converted.

Two minutes later, another Richmond error proved equally costly, Damant’s intended long pass hitting Jesse Liston’s head. Hartpury wasted no time with their counter, Evans, Foley and Akapusi Qera running lovely lines and always offering support options. Finally Evans handled for the third time to touch down for another converted try.

Richmond stuck at it and, just before half time, struck back. Cheeseman was the main provider, bursting two tackles and getting a one handed pass away to skipper Mitchell. Warden added invaluable quick hands to slip the ball on to Kirby, who received the ball on the 22. The full back did very well to hand off Simon Linsell before diving over in the corner despite desperate cover defence. The 19-5 half time score offered a glimmer of hope.

For twenty minutes it was nip and tuck, Richmond’s best chance a scrum deep in the opposition 22. The pack got the shove but not the support of referee Mr Jackson, who gave a penalty to Hartpury. Moments later Richmond again battered the opposition line but, when the ball was moved wide, the final pass was intercepted. Hartpury made no similar mistake and when Protheroe’s kick set up a line out in the 22, the throw to the back was pin point accurate and Cochrane ran round the back of the line far too easily to score the vital fourth try. Evans converted and added a simple penalty in the 68th minute.

Once again Richmond’s kicking was at fault for the next try. Given easy possession, the home backs quickly spread the ball wide, a lovely slip pass by Jake Henry sending Powell away again. As ever Jones was providing gutsy cover but the centre popped a scoring pass to substitute Charlie Chapman who juggled the ball before touching down.

Richmond battled creditably to the end and fully deserved the last score, a try by Chris Davies after a succession of phases on the line. Substitute George Edgson, on loan from Ealing, was prominent. Right at the end, the visitors nearly added a third, showing what might have been. However the final pass was inches adrift and knocked on. Better days will follow.

Steve Hill, Richmond FC Director of Rugby, commented; ‘Our work rate was excellent and we created some good opportunities to score. Frustratingly we did not convert these chances and that allowed Hartpury to take the game away from us. Being more accurate in the final third will bring its reward.’