Richmond have moved four points clear at the top of National League 1 after an excellent 37-22 bonus point win over Rams at the Athletic Ground.

On an overcast afternoon and in front of a strong home crowd, Richmond withstood the Rams challenge to extend their unbeaten run to five matches and maintain their impressive start to the season.

In a tense and bruising encounter, Richmond opened the scoring in the second minute of the match with sharpshooter Rob Kirby slotting the early penalty. Two minutes later Richmond extended their lead, with Jake Parker on the end of a bulldozing maul to give the hosts a 10 point advantage.

However, Rams continued to claw their way back into the match and were rewarded in the 22nd minute when wing Conor Carrigan crossed in the corner to reduce the deficit to five points.

Richmond continued to apply the pressure though and with Rams penalised in the scrum, Kirby kicked truly to send the home side to a 13-5 lead.

With a large contingent of travelling supporters behind them, the visitors roared back into the fixture when centre Andrew Humberstone collected a lovely kick to run away and score, reducing the margin to 13-12 with five minutes remaining in the half.

However, their confidence was blunted two minutes later when prop Sean McDonell-Roberts was shown a yellow card. It gave Richmond the opportunity to forge further ahead, with Ross Grimstone delivering the home side’s second try of the afternoon in the 40th minute.

Heading into the second half with a 20-12 lead, Timmy Walford also found himself in trouble with the referee and was sent for a ten minute rest. Down to 14 players, Richmond’s advantage was cut to five points as Ram slotted the penalty.

But again Richmond hit back, delivering a hammer blow in the 48th minute through Hamish Graham, who collected a beautiful long pass from skipper Cam Mitchell to run away and score.

With victory guaranteed, Richmond continued to push ahead, desperate to score the bonus point try. That moment came in the 81st minute when replacement Charlie Gibbings barged his way over the line to cement another outstanding Richmond win.

Player of the Match Jamie Gibbs said: “It was a really tough contest. We knew Rams would arrive with a lot of enthusiasm, but the boys dug deep and worked hard to get the bonus point victory. It’s a great feeling to be undefeated after five matches, it was an objective we set ourselves, so to achieve that means we can now look forward to the next block of exciting fixtures.”

Director of Rugby Steve Hill said: “This was a much improved performance by our whole squad. I was very pleased with a number of areas, in particular our forward pack who worked exceptionally hard all afternoon. The scrum and driving maul were a potent threat and we disrupted the Rams lineout at multiple points. Rob Kirby’s kicking was again outstanding and his accuracy enabled us to maintain the lead at crucial moments throughout the match. We still need to reduce our penalty count if we are going to sustain pressure on the opposition, however to earn a bonus point victory over the second placed club in the league is a terrific outcome.”

Richmond’s next fixture is away against Bishops Stortford next Saturday 12th October (KO 3pm).

Tickets are now on sale for Richmond’s upcoming Double Header on Saturday 19th October at the Athletic Ground (Richmond vs Cinderford 3pm, Richmond Women vs Darlington MP Sharks 5pm). Tickets here