Richmond's Hill wants repeat performance from Parkinson and co

First published in Richmond

Richmond director of rugby Steve Hill has challenged his men to repeat their weekend performance week in, week out to preserve their National Division One statue.

Prop Danny Parkinson day celebrated his 100th appearance for the club with two tries and a man of the match performance to inspire his team to an emphatic 30-10 victory over seventh-placed Loughborough Students at the Athletic Ground on Saturday.

Parkinson epitomised everything that was right about his side's display and Hill wants more between now and the end of the campaign.

"I am extremely pleased for the whole squad. They have worked tirelessly to secure the win," he said.

"Our forwards gave us a strong platform and the difference this afternoon was the excellent decision making from our midfield.

"Each player dug deep to keep going for the full 80 minutes. The challenge now is continue to operate at this level each Saturday."

With injuries and illness still a major selection barrier, Richmond made seven changes from the previous week, four players having picked up new ailments.

More positively Rory Damant, on loan from Rosslyn Park, made his debut in the centre and on the bench Jason Phipps and Tom Sargeant made welcome reappearances after injury lay-offs.

The game was preceded by a minute’s silence for Nelson Mandela, putting all other events into perspective.

Richmond dominated the early play, seizing the important kick off ball, and building good pressure in the Students’ 22.

The early scrums suggested some home advantage but the line outs were more mixed with some wayward throwing and strong pressure from the Loughborough jumpers.

Nevertheless Richmond did not allow the opposition sight of their half in the first fifteen minutes and Rob Kirby opened the scoring with an excellent penalty after the visitors came over the top at a tackle.

The first try followed in the twenty-second minute and it started with a wonderful take by that man Parkinson of a mishit high ball by fly half Chris Surman.

From a subsequent penalty Kirby kicked deep into the 22 and the forwards made no mistake from the line out, Charlie Lenygon securing possession and the forwards driving over on the second surge, Davies getting the vital touch.

With a 10-0 lead and all the play continuing in the Students’ half, Richmond looked well set, but Loughborough had other ideas.

Securing good line out ball, their forwards established the initial pressure with some picking and driving and when the ball was recycled, the backs showcased their skills, a combination of lovely long passing and sheer pace freeing winger Craig Dowsett to dive over in the corner.

Two minutes later, Dowsett had his second try in the same corner, following surging runs from hooker Gareth Harris and flanker Eoin Cremen.

Pegged back to 10-10 after dominating nearly all the first half hour, Richmond needed to restore control and they did this successfully in the final minutes of the half, re-establishing position in the visitors’22 and driving repeatedly for the line.

The Students’ defence held up and after two frustratingly aborted scrums, Richmond had to settle for a second penalty kick, well converted by Kirby to give his side a crucial 13-10 half time lead. 

Six minutes into the second half, Richmond extended their lead to two scores ahead.

The Richmond centres worked together well to break quickly from loose Students’ ball and Martin Freeman, again outstanding , appeared to give James Greenwood a scoring pass five metres out.

However, the Loughborough cover were just able to disrupt the action and knock the ball out of the winger’s grasp to earn a defensive scrum.

The next action was the crucial moment of the match as Loughborough then tried to use their pace to run from their own line, and aggressive home defence first held them at bay and then in turn forced an error.

From the scrum, Richmond patiently built up pressure and a final pick and drive by the forwards set up Parkinson for his first try.

Loughborough had their moments and it required brave defence to hold them out, Will Warden, Kirby and Abrahams especially catching the eye and Parkinson inevitably contributing an all important tackle at full stretch.

In attack Damant’s experience provided cohesion and the pack looked more and more confident as Loughborough’s defence tired from the constant battering.

Just before the half hour, Richmond finally put the game beyond reasonable doubt.

Fly half Kirby picked up loose ball on the edge of the 22 and was well supported by Rob Alexander who in turn held the ball well to set up Afi Okeshola on the charge.

The forwards powered forward again, both locks prominent, and it had to be Parkinson at the climax as the prop became his side’s second leading try scorer this season.

Kirby added the conversion and a subsequent penalty to secure victory and a 25-10 lead.

With four league points secured, there were ten minutes to go in which to add the bonus point.

A rampant pack were now really fired up and once again Richmond set up camp in the Students’ 22.

Sargeant and Davies combined well and Freeman nearly battered his way over.

But the visitors held out well and appeared to have prevented the final try when a five metre scrum was awarded to them for the last action of the day.

The Richmond forwards were having none of it. One mighty push and the Loughborough pack disappeared backwards, Sargeant getting the touch down to complete what may well be a season-defining victory. 

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