Richmond kicked-off the new decade with a hard-fought 19-8 win over old rivals Blackheath in front of an excellent crowd of 1,451 at the Athletic Ground.

On a beautiful afternoon, with the sun glaring down on the RAG, Richmond withstood a barrage of attacking pressure to secure their 13th win of the season and maintain the pressure on league leaders Rosslyn Park and Rams.

In a stop-start first half, Richmond took the lead in the fifth minute with fly-half Tom Hodgson kicking the early penalty.

From there Richmond started to take control of the fixture, with Hodgson doubling the home side’s lead two minutes later with another successful penalty attempt.

Leading 6-0 after 19 minutes Richmond were then reduced to 14 men with inside centre Morgan Ward sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle.

In a testing period for the home side, Richmond then defended magnificently and withstood the Blackheath attacking pressure, preventing the visitors from taking any advantage during Ward’s 10 minute break.

Their defensive strength was highlighted superbly when Blackheath spread the ball wide and escaped down the edge for an almost certain score before powerful wing Toby Eaton made an excellent try-saving tackle, driving the attacker into touch. His tackle was met by a huge roar by the Richmond faithful in the stands.

With Ward back onto the pitch, Richmond extended their lead to nine points just before half-time with Hodgson landing another excellent penalty.

Holding the advantage heading into the second half, Richmond looked determined to push on and extend their lead.

However, the visitors started the second half with powerful attacking intensity. Fly-half Mark Cooke directing his side neatly into the Richmond half, phase by phase.

Camped on their own line, Richmond were then penalised, providing Cooke with the opportunity to get Blackheath their first points of the afternoon. He slotted the penalty and after 47 minutes the score was 9-3.

What followed was a period of intense pressure by Blackheath, attacking strongly and looking to gain the lead.

With Richmond tackling for their lives, Blackheath were handed another opportunity to kick a penalty and reduce the deficit. However Cooke’s kick was sprayed wide.

This allowed Richmond to regain control of the match and two minutes later they rallied superbly to score their first try of the fixture.

Marching their way into the Blackheath half, the ball was spread wide to the brilliant Toby Saysell who drove forward before offloading to fullback Louis Molloy who charged his way to the line to score. Hodgson slotted the conversion from out wide and Richmond held a dominant 16-3 lead.

Six minutes later Richmond extended their lead to 19-3 with Hodgson striking his fifth successful kick of the afternoon.

With the clock ticking down and with the home side on the verge of their first win of 2020, Blackheath finally crossed for their try in the 73rd minute. The ball was spread quickly wide to fullback Ben Ransom who dotted down in the corner. His try was unconverted and Richmond cemented their 19-8 victory.

Following an excellent kicking performance and a full 80 minutes directing his side around the pitch, scrum-half Jamie Gibbs was named the Player of the Match.

Richmond Director of Rugby Steve Hill said post-match, “This was another strong performance from the whole squad. We posed problems in attack and our line defence was excellent. The way we stopped their driving maul was very impressive. We need to keep this momentum going as we now enter a run of crucial matches.”

Tickets are now on sale for Richmond’s home fixture against Hull Ionians next Saturday 11th January 2020 (KO 3pm).