Richmond slip into bottom three after last gasp defeat
6:00am Monday 11th November 2013 in Richmond
Short lived: Richmond prop Dan Parkinson, pictured against Coventry, scored a dramatic stoppage time try against Wharfedale only to see hopes of a draw dashed
Richmond director of rugby Steve Hill was left cursing his side's luck after defeat was snatched from the jaws of a draw on Saturday.
Prop Dan Parkinson's stoppage time try and full back Rob Kirby's conversion seemed to have secured their side a 13-13 draw at home to Wharfedale only for the visitors to hit back with a try two minutes later to claim a dramatic 18-13 win at the Athletic Ground.
Defeat has left Richmond in the bottom three of National Division One - with just two wins - and needing to rediscover their self belief to start playing to their full potential.
"This was a cruel way for the game to end, " said Hill, whose injury ravaged side had battled back from 13-3 down in the second half to level.
"I was extremely impressed with how our players came back and drew level with an impressive Wharfedale team.
"To lose deep in injury time and with the last play of the game is scant reward for all the effort given by the entire squad."
There were five changes to the starting line up for the home side, two at half back and three in the forwards.
With Louis Grimoldby on the bench for the Harlequins, Hugh Roberts made his first start at fly half, whilst Jamie Gibbs returned from injury at scrum half.
In the pack David Burr became the sixth hooker of the season, Chris Davies replaced the injured Tom George and prop Timmy Walford continued his welcome comeback.
In wet conditions, Richmond kicked off but soon found themselves under pressure as the visitors’ superior kicking game pinned them back in their 22 and they were indebted to a strong scrum to heave Wharfedale off their ball.
Visiting fly half Tom Barrett soon showcased his range of skills, probing skilfully for gaps, and Chris Davies did well to intercept a potential try scoring pass.
The first points of the game inevitably followed as Richmond were pinged for not releasing after breaking from a scrum and Barrett, top points scorer in the league, made no mistake.
If the visitors had the best of the opening ten minutes, Richmond had their moments thereafter but again could not finish off their opportunities.
A greasy ball did not help but the home side made too many handling errors at critical moments and the support play was not accurate enough.
A good break by Davies set up a penalty, which Rob Kirby used skilfully to kick to ten metres. The forwards drove on well but the final pop pass went tantalisingly wide.
Moments later Roberts grubber kicked beautifully to restore the position, but their quicker thinking opponents took a quick throw and cleared the danger.
And, worst of all, good set up play by Nick Moore, James Greenwood and the ever dangerous Kirby was wasted when a four man overlap was ignored for a hopeful through kick.
Nevertheless the forwards stuck to their task, Harison Edwards, Will Warden and Myles Scott to the fore, and Kirby was finally able to level the score after twenty-seven minutes, number eight Edwards having gained ten crucial metres with a quick tap from the initial penalty.
Despite the wholehearted efforts of the home team, the visitors always looked sharper in attack and their pacey backs had the flair and skill to run back from deep.
Richmond took longer to build any momentum and looked vulnerable when possession was turned over.
They were very fortunate not to concede any points when Edwards appeared to baulk their winger as he chased a kick through and then referee Phillip Davies called play back for an infringement after Barrett had appeared to drop a good goal.
With Richmond hanging on, the breakthrough came in the thirty-eighth minute.
Richmond had used a penalty as a platform for a concerted forward drive but the move broke down when a penalty was conceded under the posts.
Quick as a flash, Wharfedale tapped and went, their backs handling and interpassing with high skill.
Barrett gave a deft offload as he was tackled and Matt Dudman, full of pace at scrum half, completed the move to give his side a 3-8 half time lead.
Both sides started the second half at frantic speed and mistakes were initially common.
However, the visitors appeared to settle the game in the forty- seventh minute when a hopeful Richmond clearance was fielded by Barrett who set up lock Richard Brown on the charge.
With the home defence sucked in, there was a big overlap down the right wing and the visitors never looked like wasting the chance, Scott Jordan sliding into the corner despite a brave tap tackle by Richmond’s man of the match Warren Abrahams.
Wharfedale now had problems of their own, skipper Chris Steel being distressingly stretchered off to become their second front row casualty of the afternoon.
The Yorkshire side are made of stern stuff and readjusted to allow contested scrums to continue.
Their intelligent kicking kept finding quality attacking space and the home side continued to struggle to get basic alignment and handling in sufficient order to build attacks.
When Kirby kicked a penalty from half way out, his side were within one score of levelling the game though chances were now few and far between.
However, with the clock well past forty minutes, substitutes Caldon Pike and Chris Lenygon provided new energy at a line out and the forwards drove to the line with aplomb, Danny Parkinson being awarded the try after the officials conferred.
When Kirby added a very brave conversion, it seemed that three points had been hard earned but Wharfedale had other ideas.
In the final move of the match, Tom Davidson cut through a weary defence and winger Jordan was at hand to touch down for the final agonising action of the game.