Richmond dug deep in the most adverse conditions to claim a vital 25-10 bonus point victory against a proud Cinderford side at Forest of Dean home.

Richmond displayed formidable grit an class in denying their opponents any points in the second half despite playing into a strong, bitterly cold wind.

Scintillating tries by Tom Hodgson and Toby Saysell completed the four try victory and, with Rams losing to Blackheath, leave Richmond seven points clear of Rosslyn Park at the top of National League 1.

With the ground soft and stodgy, Richmond played the first half with the diagonal wind in their favour.

Louis Lynagh established a strong position with a big boot but the home front-row claimed a penalty at the first scrum to encourage their supporters. In the difficult conditions, Richmond looked more composed at the lineout and edged the early exchanges. However, after ten minutes, Cinderford opened the scoring. A penalty conceded for a high tackle provided the initial impetus and then Richmond were penalised for pulling down the maul. The home side made steady progress towards the posts with their big forwards battering at the defence until the ball was spread to the wide right. A pass to Sam Smith appeared to bounce forward, distracting the defence, and the winger held on to the ball to slip through to the line for the opening try.

Richmond needed an early response and got one. Cinderford came round offside at the breakdown and Tom Hodgson kicked to twenty metres. From the lineout, the forwards drove on and the home side were penalised as they illegally stopped it. A cheeky kick from Jamie Gibbs almost created a try but when it bounced back off the posts, referee Ben Russell went back to the penalty and Hodgson opened his side’s scoring.

Two minutes later, Richmond took the lead and the score was a bit special. From a scrum Tom Hodgson made a break before finding Lynagh in support thirty-five metres out. The full back powered forward before taking a diagonal route from far left to right, his pace enabling him to run round the defence and complete an outstanding solo try in the right corner.

In the next five minutes, Gibbs twice found space with probing kicks to set his side up five metres out. The forwards put in a strong shove to secure good ball at the set scrum and Hodgson found a perfect line to cut in and score near the posts to take the score to 5-13.

With Morgan Ward off injured, Dan Kelly came on as a natural replacement but there was no further score until the 38th minute.

Richmond appeared to have cleared any danger, caused by conceding a penalty for not rolling away. However, the kick from the 22 was adjudged to have been taken back in and Cinderford therefore had a lineout in a strong attacking position. The ball was thrown short and secured and

the forwards rumbled forward. The home defence was prepared and stalled the progress, but they were caught napping when scrum-half James Dean picked a nice line back against the play from ten metres and got the touchdown, cutting the lead to three points. Richmond were going to need a big second half.

Despite the worsening conditions, Richmond now played some excellent running rugby, going through a number of phases to secure a good position. With both captains getting a team warning, Richmond used a penalty to get within five metres. A five metre scrum ensued and Ronnie McLean made two characteristic charges to pull in defenders. Finally, the ball was moved wide and Hodgson did very well to take a high pass and claim his second try of the day, to which he added an excellent conversion.

The penalty count against Richmond was now climbing, the touch judges frequently being the catalyst. With the lineout close to a lottery and the wind severely limiting kicking options, Richmond found it hard to escape their half. As soon as one attack was rebuffed, Cinderford would be back in possession, courtesy of the ten penalties conceded in the second half. However, the Richmond defence was immense and, despite the nerves of supporters and the mauling power of the home forwards, Cinderford never looked as if they could find a way through.

In the 70th minute, Richmond secured victory with a key fourth try. Vitally, the forwards had escaped their own line with a scrum penalty, the front row now fully in charge in the tight. Once again, it was a Hodgson break that opened up the defence, this time a run down the touchline. Around 25 metres out, the fly-half found support alongside and fittingly passed to the flying Toby Saysell who ran in his sixth try of the season on his 50th First XV appearance.

There was still work to do and Cinderford maintained the pressure to the end. Will Warden was immense with two thunderous tackles. Cinderford continued their siege to the end, Ronnie McLean getting a yellow card but the defence was now driving their opponents back at every collision. The final whistle was a relief to all and Richmond were able to celebrate their best away win of the season after a mighty team effort.

Director of Rugby Steve Hill said: “To come to Cinderford and get five points is a great achievement. I was particularly pleased with the defensive work and the discipline under pressure”.

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