After the drama of the morning, Richmond brightened the spirits of their supporters with a 25-12 bonus point victory over first time visitors Old Elthamians.

The fourth try was scored deep in injury time and fittingly it was captain Cam Mitchell, on his 100th Richmond appearance, who got the crucial touchdown. With this eighth victory in nine games, Richmond extended their lead in National League 1 to four points. Old Elthamians, convincing victors over Chinnor the previous week, slip back to eighth position in a tightly contested league.

Richmond made just one change from the previous week, fit again Jimmy Litchfield replacing Luke Green on the replacement bench. On a wet and increasingly windy day, Richmond got off to the better start. Elthamians had plenty of early possession from two penalties but could make no headway against the Richmond defensive wall. The wind on the far touchline was hard to judge for both kickers and throwers and the visitors’ fly half Tom White kicked out on the full to give Richmond a line out thirty metres out. Jake Parker secured possession and Richmond forced a penalty, Tom Hodgson kicking neatly to five metres. Max Crawford then secured this line out ball and, with a bit of help from the backs, the pack drove over, Ross Grimstone doing the honours at the back. Rob Kirby added an excellent conversion and, after nine minutes, Richmond held a 7-0 lead.

Richmond were soon back on the attack, Jamie Gibbs angling his kick nicely to set up the initial position. Once again, OEs conceded a penalty under pressure and allowed Richmond to set up again five metres out. With the routine well established, Grimstone was again the scorer, Parker having secured the line out ball. Kirby’s conversion from the touchline narrowly missed.

At this stage Richmond looked fully in control with the home pack dominant and any Elthamian attacks firmly rebuffed or driven back to their own half. However, after twenty minutes, a grubber kick ahead bounced perfectly to provide the visitors with a five metre line out. Under pressure for the first time, Richmond held out against a sequence of line out, penalty and scrum before a turnover allowed them to clear. Richmond were soon back on the attack and worked an overlap on the right, with the front five to the fore. From the knock on, OEs won the ball at the scrum and the left footed White kicked a steepler, which went backwards in the wind. As often happens, the miskick caught out the defence and the visitors were able to regain possession. In a flash quick hands set scrum half Ollie Claxton clear on the outside and he did very well to beat a final tackler and run sixty metres to the corner.

With their tails up, the OEs now looked a different side and added a second score in the 40th minute. A Richmond clearance kick was held back by the wind, and an offside penalty conceded. Back chat cost a further ten metres and, from a second penalty, former Richmond player Mike Kovacic took a quick tap to dive over. White’s conversion levelled the scores.

The third quarter of the game seemed to be dominated by scrums being slowly set and then reset. The stalemate was finally broken in the 57th minute. Lewis Dennett had replaced the injured Giles Bromley-Martin and his left-footed kicking provided a useful foil to the right-footed Hodgson. When he kicked to just outside the 22, the pack provided the initial impetus before the ball was spread wide. Finally space was worked on the wide left and Kirby was able to send Hamish Graham clear for a good try.

Richmond extended their lead in the 65th minute. The forwards mounted another strong driving maul and earned a penalty as the OEs pulled it down. Kirby’s successful kick gave his side a two score cushion and the focus was now on adding the bonus point. The Richmond pack were now well on top, the front row ‘finishers’ adding extra ballast at the scrums and Crawford dominant at the line out. Gradually Richmond built the pressure, Gibbs setting them up in the 22. Scrum dominance was now crucial and David Banfield was later adjudged Player of the Match. Given a penalty in the 78th minute, the team opted for another set scrum. Replacement Toby Dabell ran a crucial wide line to get winger Dan Kelly close, before the forwards patiently picked and drived to get within inches. Finally, with the clock well past 80 minutes, skipper Mitchell somehow found some space and dived over to the delight of his team.

Director of Rugby Steve Hill said: “This was an important win today. In very difficult conditions we played the required style of rugby to ensure victory. Our driving maul was a real weapon whilst our disruption of their lineout was crucial. Attacking opportunities were limited but it was great to see Cam Mitchell score the bonus point try on his 100th appearance”

Richmond’s next fixture is away against Canterbury on Saturday (KO 3pm).