Last Sunday, supporters braved the cold to watch Richmond defeat Lichfield on home turf, adding to their run of successive victories.
In the opening exchanges, both teams remained fairly even as they were trying to gel new combinations. The Richmond team included five new players in the starting pack and both sides welcomed back players from international duty.
Despite some impressive play from Richmond, including a kick from Jackie Shiels deep into Lichfield territory, which was collected by Holly Myers on the run, the score remained 0-0.
Lichfield were determined to cause an upset and continually pushed back attacks from Richmond, but England prop Vik Cornborough was able to break through several defenders and gain good metres, proving that props can possess speed and footwork, as well as brute strength. She offloaded to Emma Croker in support, who was hauled down just short of the line.
Richmond battled to maintain their territorial advantage. Lichfield attempted to kick their way out of the half, but Croker gpt under the high the ball and tipped it on to Leanne Riley, who used her electric pace to take her team right back up to the try line.
The field position wasn’t wasted and the forwards powered together over the line to score in the corner, drawing first blood 30 minutes into the game 5-0.
Richmond’s first try seemed to offer them confidence, and within several minutes, they found themselves back within Litchfield’s danger zone. Laura Kapo took the ball off a well executed line out move 15 metres out and she cannonballed over the try line in her trademark style, bringing the score to 10-0.
The first half was littered with Lichfield penalties and they soon found themselves reduced to 14 when the ref punished them for repeated infringements in their own 22. No sooner had the first sin binning happened, than they were then down to just 13 for continued penalty offences.
Richmond looked to exploit their player advantage and attacked immediately from the restart through Kapo. On another brilliant run, Kapo offloaded to Riley, who brought them into Litchfield’s 22 yet again. In the last few minutes of the half, Richmond almost scored twice, but a determined Lichfield defence stopped them both times short.
In the second half, Lichfield regrouped and came back at Richmond strongly. They got their first points on the scoreboard through pace and power from the backline. The conversion was missed, 10-5.
Richmond come back with a vengeance, and it doesn’t take them long to re-establish their lead. A strong carry from flanker Sam Voyle provided quick ball out to Captain Shiels, who leads by example for her team, successfully scoring the try under the posts and converting.
A resolute Lichfield built the phases and worked their way back up to within scoring distance of the try line. Some quick thinking from their scrum half saw them earn their second try of the game as she sniped through a gap next to the ruck.
Richmond responded through number 8 Davinia Monteiro, who in her first game back from injury, picked up from where she left off with her snaking, powerful runs, and crossed the whitewash for another try to make the score 22-10.
Lichfield continued to chase the game and apply pressure. A fantastic line out, followed by fast feet, allowed Lichfield to decrease Richmond’s lead for a third time to 22-17, making for a tense last 15 minutes of the game.
But the power of the Richmond pack saw them through to the end of the game. A catch and drive from the lineout, which worked well for them all day, earned them another try which was converted by fullback Abi Chamberlain.
But Lichfield weren’t done yet and Amy Cokayne was almost able to run her team out of danger, only to be halted by a fantastic cover tackle from Vik Cornborough who pushed her into touch.
The final score was 29-17, maintaining Richmond’s spot at the top of the table.
Next Sunday Richmond play Saracens in a crunch match at home, where Richmond will be gunning to make it a double win over their north London rivals.
1 ViK Cornborough 2 Emma Croker (VC) 3 Laura Kapo 4 Wendy Fischer 5 Sammy Crandell 6 Sam Voyle 7 Tess Forsberg 8 Davinia Monteiro 9 Leanne Riley 10 Jackie Shiels (C) 11 Holly Myers 12 Amy Turner 13 Alicia McComish 14 Jade Wong 15 Abi Chamberlain 16 Lil Knight 17 Kiri Lose 18 Jayne Goodliffe 19 Tess Braunerova 20 Naomi Hampton
Report courtesy of Richmond Ladies RFC