Richmond on the rise as OAs falter

PUBLISHED: 15:22 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 May 2010

London One Richmond 71 Old Albanians 7 RICHMOND fans arrived at The Athletic Ground in their droves to hail their conquering heroes, who had already sealed their return to the National leagues as Champions of London One.

London One

Richmond 71 Old Albanians 7

RICHMOND fans arrived at The Athletic Ground in their droves to hail their conquering heroes, who had already sealed their return to the National leagues as Champions of London One.

They were rewarded ultimately with a big win achieved in style but the margin of the home side's success should not be allowed to mask the contribution OAs made to an entertaining match, the last of this current campaign.

OAs, without the influential Paul Mansfield, who broke a hand in last weekend's clash with Civil Service, strived to compete throughout and played with a commitment which has been sadly missing in some of their less acceptable performances on the road this term.

Darragh O'Mahoney, Richard Gregg and Justin Azzopardi relished every opportunity to attack and Mark Mansfield's speed took him past several defenders to be denied a try by a foot in touch.

This was a rare threat however as OAs best efforts were thwarted by a mean home defence who conceded not an inch of territory all afternoon. In Henry Head and Tristan Wesley, Richmond fielded a second row partnership who are also very accomplished going forward and their ability to counter attack with free flowing moves from set piece breakdowns was a continual headache for the Woollams men. Richmond's well balanced pack created a great platform for possession and left a slick back line to finish the job of demolition.

Wingers van Schalkwyk and Piggot, each high in the list of the leagues' top scorers, were chief executioners, sharing six tries between them and prospering in the second half as OAs stamina came under scrutiny and more overlaps began to appear. The remaining tries were all scored by backs who relished the dry conditions made for running rugby.

Rob Healey and Sam Townsend returned for OAs but it proved to be a painful end to the season for captain Gregg Botterman who dislocated a shoulder.

Despite the predictable result, this match opened in the most bizarre circumstances.

At 3pm prompt, and with no sign of their hosts, OAs were instructed by the referee to start the match with a free kick. Richard Gregg proceeded to run the ball under the posts and a disbelieving Richmond team emerged from the tunnel to see his conversion sail over.

OAs: D. O'Mahoney, M. Evans, J. Azzopardi, T. Edwards, M. Mansfield, R. Gregg, P. Friel, A. Gelman, G. Botterman, A. Pearson, R. Burr, A. Bennett, M. Rout, J. Edwards, D. Fergusson. Subs used: S. Williams, S. Townsend, R. Healey.

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