RICHMOND 27 CANTERBURY 10
If the league leaders entertained thoughts of an easy afternoon against lowly Canterbury they were made to think again. Richmond may have claimed the bonus point win with a late try but it is no exaggeration to say that the final score flattered them.
This was a Canterbury performance of skill and enterprise which saw them fight back from a slow start and dominate the first half before taking the lead against a rattled home side.
If they could not quite sustain that successful spell there was no shame in finally conceding the match to a side that was playing Championship rugby last season.
It was the Richmond pack who slowly raised their game after the break to seize the initiative after being outplayed by the tough and combative city forwards.
They still had to work overtime to create second half tries for James Litchfield and Dave Banfield and cancel Canterbury’s two point lead but
the unease in their ranks was plain.
The game might have followed a predicted pattern when Richmond went in front through an early penalty goal from Tom Hodgon and a converted try by Toby Saysell who broke off a driving maul. But predictions were blown away on the cold wind as the city side took control, winning the break down battle and dominating possession and territory. Towards the end of the half their excellent work paid off when a blind side thrust sent Ricky Mackintosh charging for the line. The wing was stopped inches short but Tyler Oliver picked up and drove over for a try which was converted with a fine strike by Charlie Kingsman. Two minutes into the second half Kingsman put his side in front with penalty goal and Richmond were in trouble as they contemplated one of the season’s major upsets.
They avoided it as the balance of pack power shifted marginally and Canterbury found themselves on the wrong end of the penalty count. By the end of the third quarter catch and drive positions had set up the Lichfield and Banfield scores with Hodgson adding one conversion. Canterbury, seeing less of the ball, were not as effective in attack although they were unlucky with a couple of bounces from chip kicks over the defence. However, they were in no mood to be run over and it was only in added injury time that Richmond got their bonus point. Hamish Graham somehow controlled a floated pass to grab a fourth try and Hodgson’s conversion brought smiles and huge relief to a side that had been thoroughly tested.
Canterbury: M.Craven, R.Mackintosh, D.Corcoran, W.Waddington (repl K.Braithwaite), C.Grimes, C.Kingsman, T.Williams (repl D.Smart), B.Young, S.Roers (repl J.Otto), S.North (repl A.Wake-Smith), R.Cadman (repl W.Scholes), M.Corker, J.Rouse, F.Edwards. T.Oliver