End of the pre-season
September 1 2017
The first day of a long, sunny Bank Holiday Weekend; what better thing to do than go and be a part of the build up to our hotly awaited return to the Premiership? Despite the fears of a rail network nightmare, everything seemed well and there was a noticeable Irish presence in Richmond from the moment you left the train station. After a few beers in town, it was time to saunter round the corner to the RAG.
Having never been to a Richmond or Scottish game before, my visit to the Athletic Ground was a very pleasant treat; an excellent "proper-rugby club" atmosphere, helped out by being able to lean on the pitch surround of the Second Pitch and watch Richmond IIIs take on North Walsham as a little appetiser. A good close match ended up 24 a-piece.
To the main event then and, taking up position half way up in the stand on the 10 metre line there was just enough time to catch the end of the warm up before both teams made their return to the pitch and we were underway.
The game was reffed by Karl Dickson who, if I recall correctly took charge of our Christmas game against Richmond in his first "big-time" game as a referee. Anyway, I digress.
It didn't take too long for Irish to register their first score after an initially strong start from 'Mond. With just shy of seven minutes on the clock, Cowan went over in the far corner after a delightfully floated pass from Bell. The move came off the back of a trademark jinking run by Lewington who then fed Paice inside him before Bell's intervention. Despite the conversion being from right on the touchline, Bell added the extras to bring up 0-7.
A few minutes later and the crowd were almost on their feet again as Paice looked to be through and in for a try following some lovely interlinking passage of play before Mr Dickson pulled the move back for a forward pass.
With Irish now looking dominant, Lewi set off again on a run only to see his chip over the top bounce into touch. Unfortunately the Richmond winger took a big of a nasty looking knock at this point which caused a stoppage in play. The clock of was brief respite for the 'Mond defenders who were then straight back on duty but were unable to stop du Plessis from the back of a now trademarked lineout maul. Another solid conversion from Bell and Irish are sitting pretty at 0-14 with about 15 minutes gone.
With the action straight back from the restart, Treviranus was guilting of carry the ball into contact too loosely and coughed up a turnover which Richmond were keen to exploit. Strong Irish defence however forced them to try a dink over the top which was well fielded by Bell inside the Irish 22. A swift pass out to Lewington once again to show what he can do with his dancing feet to then link up with Mulchrone (via Treviranus) who went in out on the far side again; a lovely length of the field try but too wide for Bell this time who pushed the conversion wide. 0-19 with 18 on the clock.
Ojo was next on the score sheet via some simple hands from a 5 metre scrum after 'Mond were forced to carry the ball back over their line. A simple one for Bell to make it 0-26 and 34 gone.
5 minutes left but still time enough for a further Irish try. Ambitious play saw Lewington knock on from a challenging looking cross-field kick but the home team were unable to get much of a clearance from the resulting scrum. Simple hands saw a regulation score for McKibbin under the posts. The regulation conversion was added once again by Bell to leave things at 0-33 for the half.
The second half was a little more confusing as the whole team changed pretty much (save for Bell I think) and half of them did not have numbers on their backs.
More or less straight from the off Tikoirotuma (I think) was denied, just shoved into touch with the line at his mercy but Curtis-Harris went over shortly after as Richmond continued to endure sustained pressure. With Bell extras, that brought up the 40 with no reply.
That reply was to follow a few minutes later however as Bell was charged down inside the Irish 22. The resulting chase for the ball saw Mitchell over for Richmond to bring up a 7-40 score with 50 minutes played.
'Mond were next to score with their second from a rolling maul. The initial maul defence from Irish had been good but Richmond reset, went again and the Irish bodies ran out. 12-40 after the conversion missed to the right.
A fantastic repost though from Irish with Ransom and Tonks linking up with some inside-outside passing to see Ransom over in the corner. Sadly too wide for Bell who just missed to the right. 12-45 and 65 played.
Five minutes later it looked as though Cowan had gone over for his second of the game (he came back on to replace Nayalo who was injured) but play was called back for a forward pass from a huge missed pass by Bell. At the death though, Irish continued to press and scored their final try of the afternoon via Porecki from another catch and drive line out move.
12-50 the final score
Overall a decent enough looking performance for the afternoon. Some passages of play looked a little loose but it's always difficult in a 'friendly' match to operate at 100% intensity. For me, stand out players looked for be Cowan, Bell and Lewington. There was also plenty to be happy about from McKibbin and Marshall as well. Ransom looked to be livewire when fed the ball. The whole squad though looked very promising and let's see how the lucky 23 go on Saturday at Twickenham.
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.