Christmas comes early for Richmond at Woollams

National League 2 South

Old Albanian 26 Richmond 39

IT was Sponsors’ Lunch day at Woollams on Saturday and by way of thanking them for their valued support OAs served up a delicious lunch, followed by a curate’s egg game.

For it was Richmond who were treated lavishly by their hosts who indulged them in some unmissable penalty opportunities and as much butterfingers as they could devour.

Looking at the score above one may be forgiven for thinking that Richmond went on an glut of try-scoring but, at least to OAs’ credit, the hosts won the try-count 4-3, thereby securing a bonus point where five were on offer.

So how did OAs turn try-scoring superiority into a dismal defeat?

Firstly, to the frustration of their loyal sponsors and supporters, handling. OAs’ hurry and scurry play involves a high-risk, high-octane game which demands safe and accurate handling.

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As soon as Richmond twigged this they offered no end of opportunities for OAs’ attacks to fall flat on their face. OAs’ back three were required to field no end of high balls some of which stuck but the majority were either dropped or even worse patted back and became hostages to fortune for marauding attackers.

Richmond’s final try came not from their own endeavours but from an OAs fumble as the threequarters were running the ball out from their own try-line, passing without thought from hand-to-hand – or not as the case may be – in front of the posts.

Secondly, and just as unforgivably, the scrummage suffered from players being out of position to the extent that a scrum against the head in the 15th minute resulted in a dart from two-try Jonan Boto crossing the line in the simplest possible manner.

If the two points above were not bad enough, the lessons which OAs had hoped would be learned from last week’s defeat at Lydney about discipline were ignored and with exactly the same result.

Five penalty kicks – well slotted by Richmond’s No 10, Ross Broadfoot – were given away in that dangerous time bracket just before and just after half-time.

Finally – tactics. Wisely, the programme did not nominate a skipper for the OA side and it would be invidious to hang the blame on one individual, however with a winnable game just into the final quarter and the scores at 19-36, three opportunities presented themselves to slot kickable penalties and were wasted on tap-and-go runs.

Notionally those three scores and the pressure Richmond were then under would have brought the score up to 28-36, just one goal and one score from taking the lead. Lydney would have had no hesitation.

Neither was this the best side Richmond have ever brought to Woollams. Gone are the days of Bob Skinstadt parading a minute before kick-off with his mobile still attached to his ear, no more Harvey Thorneycroft carrying all before him down the touchline and what has happened to Buster White standing on the touchline telling everybody, especially the referee, their collective fortunes?

With the exception of the excellent Broadfoot, who also slotted three conversions and a dropped goal and winger Boto, there was a strangely average look about the rest of the team.

Tight head prop Owen Gregory bagged himself a yellow card and one or two unsavoury incidents among the forwards occurred before the end as Richmond sought to protect their lead; this was not the Richmond of old, but OAs failed to take advantage.

Boto’s first try was a smart piece of opportunism down the far touchline, but OAs struck back to make the score 7-7 in the eleventh minute following a drive upfield and a piece of loose play which left Paul Gustard with both line and posts in his sights. Richard Gregg converted that try and two others.

Richmond were 20 points up before OAs scored again, this time by Gregg following a tapped penalty and, with his conversion making it 14-20, OAs were in sight with only nine minutes remaining until half-time and in the driving seat.

But instead of moving up a gear they regressed to ‘Lydney mode’ and spent until half-time and 20 minutes thereafter on the ropes.

However, from what looked like a tentative foray upfield they scored the try of the match as Chris Lombaard made 20 yards to flip on to Terry Adams to Chris May to Andy Edwards who ran a tight arc to score 10 yards from the touchline. Even though the kick was missed, 19-29 represented a ‘catchable’ score until the episode of passing in front of the posts and dropping the Christmas present occurred.

But final credit to OAs for sticking to their task when Richmond shut up the charity shop only to come under pressure themselves as the ever-present Jamie Bache crashed over for the final try.

One heartening sight of the day was the return of Eddie Panting to watch the last 20 minutes of the game having been knocked cold by a Chinnor opponent in the second team match earlier and laid out to the point where their game was continued on an adjacent pitch. Also, a sighting of a young half-back recently returned from his studies in Portsmouth.

OA: Edwards, May, Adams, Lombaard, Evans, Gregg, Liebenberg, Cecere, James, Laws, Comb, Gillings, Cooper-Millar, Micans, Gustard.

Subs: Cope, Hughes, Bache, Vinnicombe, Powell.