Richmond produced surely their best performance of the season with a comprehensive 21-5 victory over Chinnor, who boasted a seven match unbeaten run prior to this fixture.

Two excellent well worked tries were backed by some magnificent defensive work, which denied their opponents any forward momentum.

Richmond now go into the Christmas break level at the top of the table with Rams and Rosslyn Park, who both face trips to Chinnor in the second half of the season.

With the surrounding area a sea of mud, Chinnor did well to provide a good playing surface.

Richmond once again had changes to their side through injury and unavailability.

Toby Eaton and Ross Grimstone made welcome reappearances whilst, to general delight, Will Warden was persuaded to act as a bench substitute.

Chinnor, sitting in fourth position at the start of the game, have recruited a host of ‘name’ players and boasted a hefty pack and some skilful backs.

Richmond were quick into gear, winning a penalty at the tackle to set up in the 22.

From the line out the ball was quickly moved wide to the ever improving Dan Kelly, who was well supported.

However, with the move just five metres out, referee Dan Parrott signalled a penalty for Chinnor who gratefully cleared.

There followed a sequence of four minutes of scrums being re-set before Chinnor were given the inevitable penalty. However, Byron Hodge was in fine form in the lineout and picked off the opposition ball.

Richmond had nearly all the ball in the first half hour and played some neat attacking rugby, the forwards reliably making yards and finding support whilst the backs were given plenty of chances to show their pace against their highly rated opponents.

After sixteen minutes, Tom Hodgson kicked a 38 metre penalty, given for a high tackle.

Five minutes later, the fly-half had added seven more points.

Taking the kick-off ball, Hodgson initially set up his team in the opposition half.

Chinnor had a chance to clear but passed forward under pressure.

From the scrum, Kelly, Cam Mitchell and Toby Saysell combined beautifully before Chinnor were again pinged for a high tackle.

From the lineout, Grimstone and Saysell contributed well before the ball was spread wide. Hodgson needed no second chance, picking his line well to run through the defence from fifteen metres and touch down under the posts.

On the half hour, Chinnor made their first entry into the Richmond 22, fullback Caolan Ryan wriggling his way forward to draw a defensive penalty. Kicking into the wind, Laurence May drifted his kick just wide. Richmond exacted full punishment, scoring another eight points in the last three minutes of the half. A Saysell charge down provided the territorial opportunity, a scrum on the Chinnor 22. The backs then took over, Hodgson making one of a number of lovely breaks before finding his half-back partner Jamie Gibbs. The scrum-half ran an excellent line before slipping the deftest of inside passes to the supporting Alex Bibic for a superlative try. Hodgson missed the conversion but added a penalty, earned by a strong Mitchell break.

Despite the 0-18 score, Richmond still had a job to do as they now faced the worst of the elements. Morale was undoubtedly raised by the entry of Warden, who proceeded to play the whole second half and contributed as fully as ever. However, it was a real team performance with everybody contributing. Toby Eaton on the wing had seen little ball but he made one excellent take of a high ball to give his side possession. Jake Parker and the back-row were again outstanding and the inside backs tackled their hearts out. After 51 minutes, Hodgson extended the lead to 0-21 with another penalty.

Chinnor now had more ball and once or twice used the wind to drill the ball towards the corners. But they seemed to have no creative plan to break the defensive wall. When they did go through the phases they often ended up behind the gain-line in the face of the committed tackling. Their focus was undoubtedly on the scrum. The Richmond front-row, hitherto secure, had to be rearranged following some injury knocks but, once Chinnor got a shove going at one scrum, Mr Parrott consistently found against Richmond thereafter.

Finally, after 73 minutes, Chinnor got a reward from their efforts in the tight. From a penalty, the pack had a five metre lineout and drove forward. Richmond held the initial attack but, for the only time, left a defensive hole on the blindside and hooker Nick Selway was untroubled as he slipped off the maul. The last ten minutes were distinctly odd. Richmond were given two yellow cards, one for Dave Banfield after a team warning and one for Jamie Gibbs for what was considered a deliberate knock on. With both Richmond hookers unable to continue, the referee took some time to set-up uncontested scrums. With a two man advantage, scrum-half Callum Watson opted to go on the blindside but was bundled into touch at the corner. Saysell had to remember his throwing-in skills but found his man and the ball was cleared into touch to conclude a fine win.

Richmond’s Director of Rugby Steve Hill said post-match: “The whole squad should be proud of the performance. Our lineout and defence were excellent which gave us a tremendous platform from which to attack. I was really pleased by how our backs controlled the game and how we took the try scoring opportunities. The players have been outstanding and deserve their well-earned rest over Christmas.”

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