Richmond 26-22 Knights.
The Knights lost out in agonizing fashion at the Athletic Ground having battled back from an early 13-0 deficit.
The defeat was Donny’s first at the The Athletic Ground since the 2012/13 and was particularly tough to take after retaking the lead and holding it until the dying moments.
In chilly but fine conditions the hosts looked lively from the off and had points on the board with barely a minute played as full back Rob Kirby slotted a penalty when the Knights were penalized for offside.
The hosts continued to make the early running following the penalty, playing with plenty of pace and width. Despite this nothing really materialized in the very early stages until immediately after the Knights first meaningful attack of the game.
A midfield penalty was put to touch in the home 22m by Simon Humberstone and having secured possession the Knights set about the Richmond line. Midfield pairing Lloyd Hayes and Will Owen punched holes up and into the home 5m until the attack was killed by a deliberate knock on from a Hayes pass. Donny went back to the corner and seemed to have rumbled over but the linesman saw a foot in touch.
Having secured possession, Richmond cleared before winning a turnover in midfield. Fred Gabbitass sent a kick deep for Charlie Foley to chase after and he did well to collect and evade capture to clear to touch. Richmond took the line out quickly and exploited a broken defensive line to spin wide and put winger Martin Freeman away down the right hand side. Rob Kirby converted 10-0.
Kirby made the deficit 13 immediately after as the Knights gave away a penalty from the restart which the full back sent between the sticks.
Thankfully things improved from this point on and Donny began to run with more purpose and quickened up their phase play.
Good work from Aaron Carpenter saw the number eight carry to just outside the home 22m before drawing a penalty which Humberstone put in the corner. A smart catch and drive was illegally dropped inches from the Richmond try line but from short range Colin Quigley barged his way over to score. Humberstone was off the mark with the extras.
Donny really began to look sharp after the try and, with front foot ball, started asking questions of the Richmond defence and it didn’t take long for them to run out of answers.
From a midfield line out possession was moved in field where Charlie Foley hit a good line to break through from there he accelerated into the Richmond 22m before feeding Tyson Lewis who, at full tilt, would not be stopped. Humberstone’s conversion found the uprights and bounced wide but momentum was back with the Knights.
With under five minutes to go until the break it seemed as if the Knights could well go into the sheds ahead. Unfortunately, two errors deep in their own territory ended in two penalties successfully hit by Kirby to make the half time score 19-10.
If the Knights started the game slowly, no one could accuse them of starting the second in the same vein.
A series of offloads and wild passes worked in the Knights favour as the disruption brought holes in the home defence and Tyson Lewis very nearly got a second. He was stopped short but from the breakdown following Richmond infringed and the Knights went to the corner. A well taken catch and drive was quickly rumbled over the line with Carpenter claiming the score.
Five minutes later the Knights got their fourth and what a try is was!
A scrum penalty was kicked to touch just inside the home 22m and the Knights played off the top. At full steam Lloyd Hayes hit his line with pin point timing to burst through before evading another and offloading to Tom James. The replacement showed a fantastic turn of foot outstrip the covering defence and score and Humberstone added the extras; 19-22.
True to the meandering nature of the game and credit to Richmond who, instead of being disheartened by the double blow, rallied and the Knights spent what seemed like the next twenty minutes defending. Admittedly most of the territory was in relatively none threatening areas but on a couple of occasions only absolutely stonewall defence prevented the hosts crossing.
With the clock ticking closer and closer to eighty the relentless waves of attack continued and took their toll and there was an air of inevitability when replacement prop Will Goodrick-Clarke crossed in the dying stages. Kirby continued his immaculate display with the boot to make it 26-22 with only a couple of minutes to go.
The Knights made one last attack and Hayes found a breakthrough but unfortunately could not find his support and moments later Dean Richards blew the game to a close.
The challenges don’t get much easier for the Knights who now face Bedford back at Castle Park next weekend.
Richmond; 15) Rob Kirby, 14) Martin Freeman (Rhodri Adamson 67’), 13) Cameron Mitchell, 12) Ronnie McLean, 11) Jordan Simpson-Hefft, 10) Freddie Gabbitass (James Swan 58’), 9) Luc Jones, 1) Jeremy Cunnew (Will Goodrick-Clarke 62’), 2) Ross Grimstone (Jason Phipps 53’), 3) Craig Trenier (Joe Tarrant 53’), 4) Will Warden, 5) Chris Davies, 6) Jesse Liston (Toby Saysell 58’), 7 Jack Allcock, 8) Jake Parker. Replacements: 16) Jason Phipps, 17) Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18) Max Crawford, 19) Rhodri Adamson, 20) James Swan, 21) Toby Saysell, 22) Joe Tarrant.
Tries; Freeman 21’, Goodrick-Clarke 77’
Conv; Kirby 21’, 77’
Pens; Kirby 1’, 24’, 37’, 40’
Knights: 15) Charlie Foley, 14) Andy Bulumakau, 13) Lloyd Hayes, 12) Will Owen, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Simon Humberstone (Declan Cusack 77’), 9) Michael Heaney (Tom James, 48’) 1) Owen Evans (Richard List 55’), 2) Ben Hunter (Jack Bergmanas 77’), 3) Colin Quigley (Joe Sproston 64’), 4) Matt Challinor (Tom Hicks 60’), 5) Nick Civetta, 6) Jack Ram, 7) Michael Hills (C), 8) Aaron Carpenter (Alex Shaw 48’).
Replacements: 16) Jack Bergmanas, 17) Richard List, 18) Joe Sproston, 19) Tom Hicks, 20) Alex Shaw, 21) Tom James, 22) Declan Cusack.
Tries; Quigley 28’, Lewis 33’, Evans 45’, James 51’
Conv; Humberstone 51’
Referee: Dean Richards