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Championship Draw with Cornish Pirates shows Richmond Rugby can mix it with the best of them

Semi professional side, Richmond Rugby pressed Cornish Pirates, a top three, full time side, to a nail-biting draw in a Championship fixture at RAG.

Ninth-placed Richmond faced third-placed Cornish Pirates in the rearranged round 12 Championship fixture held on Richmond’s home turf at the RAG on Friday 5 February.

Richmond full-back James Kane told SWL: “It’s the kind of rugby that everyone wants to see.

© Dante Kim Photography

“We pride ourselves on our scramble ability, we somehow find a way, we dig deep and it’s something we are very proud of.”

After a tentative start for both sides, Pirate Callum Sirker thundered down the left wing, gaining impressive ground before being intercepted by his former teammates.

Jack Stafford wailed ‘Spacing! Spacing!’ from the Richmond bench but the wind whipped the words out of his mouth as Shae Tucker made the most of the gaps to score for Pirates, converted by Harry Bazalgette.

Richmond looked sluggish as Pirates tightened the vice with a series of convincing phases until finally Pirates’ Tom Duncan scored and Bazalgette converted, which brought the score 14-0 to Pirates in the 23rd minute.

Richmond’s fortunes turned following a flash of brilliance from Ted Landray, as he offloaded to James Kane, who then passed to James Lennon for the try, converted by Kane.

Moments later, a similarly nimble maneuver by Owain James, out of the maul, gave player of the match Huw Worthington Richmond’s next try, the second in under four minutes, converted by Kane.

A yellow card for a high tackle from Tom Bolwell cut the Cornish down to 14 men.

Just before half time, Richmond’s Mark Bright emerged from a huge driving maul to claim his 13th try of the season which was converted by Kane.

Jack Stafford ©Dante Kim Photography

London Based Pirates fan and Bard of Gorseth Kernow Mark Elton was reflective at half time, he said “the RAG known as bit of a bogey ground for the Pirates but this is a real shock, we need to pull it together now.”

Six minutes into the second half, Pirates pushed harder.

They narrowed Richmond’s lead with another try by Duncan, but Bazalgette failed to convert, and they fell short of equalizing at 21-19.

A successful penalty kick by James Kane from 35 metres out bolstered Richmond’s lead to 24-19.

There was consternation on the pitch and in the stands at the 70th minute after a try was awarded to Pirates despite referee Dan Jones finding himself all too close to the action, right in the path of Richmond’s defenders.

Another failure to convert by Pirates offered scant consolation to Richmond and left the teams neck and neck at 24 all with less than ten minutes to go.

Richmond’s hope of wresting back control of the match faded as a long penalty kick from Kane fell just wide of the posts as the wind swept up once again.

James Kane in action ©Dante Kim Photography

Galvanised, Pirates sorely tested Richmond’s defenses in the final few minutes.

They prized the ball out to the right wing, prompting an agonized groan from Richmond fans and as the seconds passed like treacle.

As all seemed lost, a plucky tackle from Richmond’s Will Kaye created just enough of a delay to secure the draw.

Richmond will face Doncaster Knight at home at the RAG tomorrow – kick off 3pm.

Cornish Pirates will play London Scottish at their home turf, The Mennaye the same day, kick off at 2:30pm.

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