RICHMOND COMEBACK FAILS TO OVERCOME LIGHTNING
A three-point penalty was all that separated Richmond and Loughborough Lightning at the end of the opening game of the Premier 15s, as both sides crossed for three tries and two conversions. In truth, though, the story of this one could fill a Hollywood trilogy.
For the first 40, things looked ominous for Richmond, as Loughborough, led by new number 10 Katy McLean, dominated with the ball and territory, and punished Richmond at the breakdown. Scrum penalties were coming thick and fast, and it was no surprise that both first half tries came from 5m scrums getting shoved over – one Richmond scrum turned over, and one Lightning effort that ended in a penalty try. Add in McLean’s easy three points taken in front of the posts early on, and Richmond had a mountain to climb.
Every comeback needs a spark, and Richmond found theirs early in the second half, when a break from deep went through several sets of hands before Alicia McComish – impressive in defence and attack throughout – drew the last player and put Emelie Hellgren in for a certain try of the week contender. Lightning came back with a killer blow to put the score out to 22-5, and that looked to be that with 20 minutes remaining…
…but a raft of late yellow cards saw Lightning at one point reduced to 11 players, and Richmond took advantage with two tries, one penalty try and one short-range bulldozer from Libby Povey, to pull the score back to 22-19. One last roll of the dice went to ground, and Loughborough saw the clock out. A defeat, but a bonus point on the road, and for Richmond, it’s a chance to look at the positives and build a solid platform from which to launch their chaotic style of rugby next time out. So close to an epic win, but a brave defeat will do for now!
“We knew the first half would be tough”, said skipper Jade Knight after the game. “They’ve got a world class kicker and were going into the wind, and they came at us physically. Fair play, the girls came out blazing in the second half, and we kept it a lot tighter. I’m happy with that score – Loughborough finished fifth last season!”