On a cold evening at the Athletic Ground, Richmond Women struggled to find any momentum as they fell to a 34-0 defeat to Loughborough Lightning.

The Round 7 Tyrrells Premier 15s clash was meant to be a day of celebration for the home side as experienced flanker Libby Povey marked 50 First XV caps, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring in the seventh minute with scrum-half Jennifer Maxwell running away to score. Her kick was unconverted but Loughborough had all the momentum early.

Richmond tried to force their way into the match and had passages of strong attacking play, with the likes of Hallie Taufoou and Hannah Duffy proving tough to tackle. But ten minutes later, the visitors were over again, this time it was England captain Sarah Hunter who touched down from close range.

With the conversion unsuccessful, Richmond again looked to regain control of the fixture, but a string of mistakes and turnovers gave Loughborough plenty of territory and attacking possession.

Loughborough’s third try came in the 35th minute with lightning quick winger Rachael Woosey diving over in the corner to score. Her try was unconverted. Two minutes later she was over again with a lovely dash down the wing to extend the visitors lead.

Despite the 22-0 deficit at half-time and with the temperature dramatically falling, the Richmond’s supporters continued to urge their team on and were encouraged as the home side started the second half full of energy. Libby Povey was given a huge roar as she was replaced by Charlie Willett in the back-row and Tess Braunerova brought a spark at scrum-half.

But again the visitors started to claw back control of the fixture with Katy Daley-Mclean dominating proceedings at fly-half. Her slickness in attack allowed the visitors to spread the ball wide, providing the perfect platform for Woosey to run down the wing and score her hat-trick try.

The final score of the afternoon came in the 69th minute with Loughborough winger Rhona Lloyd zooming through the Richmond defence to score an excellent individual try under the posts. Mclean nailed her conversion and Loughborogh secured a 34-0 victory.

Head Coach Mike Panoho said post-match: “It was always going to be a challenging fixture after four weeks off. I thought Loughborough were very good today. They controlled the set-piece and their scrum was excellent. We made a few errors that cost us and we struggled to gain any momentum throughout the match. We will get back to training next week and work on the things that let us down today.”

Meanwhile the Richmond Women’s 2nd XV conceded a 22-5 defeat against the Loughborough 2nd XV in the Development League.

Richmond’s next Tyrrells Premier 15s fixture is away against Firwood Waterloo next Saturday 7th December (KO 2pm).