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The Pirates made their second trip of the season to The RAG for a rearranged Round 12 Championship fixture, that was of course postponed just before Christmas.
In a topsy-turvy game it was perhaps fitting that it finished all square as the sides were locked at 24-24, with the Pirates securing a try bonus point to boot. The question in the weeks to come will be was it two points gained, or two points lost?
The Pirates, off the back of a heroic comeback bonus point victory at Coventry the week before, were forced into a number of changes due to injury, although still boasting an extremely strong match day 23 – a testament to the depth of this squad.
On a cold day in the capital, it was the home side who initially started at a red hot pace, desperate to their own marker down at the maul – something so often attributed to the Pirates. However, for all their hard work Richmond soon found themselves trailing from a superb Pirates score.
Richmond lost possession on the Pirates 5m and in a flash the electric Sirker, who was a threat all afternoon, took off and made a good 60 metres before he was eventually hauled down. The away pack carried ferociously with the line at their mercy and it was eventually finished off by Shae Tucker. Bazalgette’s conversion gave the Pirates a 0-7 lead.
The momentum had swung the Pirates way now, who were finding space to attack with great regularity. Sirker again causing great menace went close, but in typical Pirates fashion (and Tom Duncan fashion) the away team muscled their way over the whitewash eventually. Bazalgette converted and all was rosy at 0-14.
Unfortunately though, the momentum was about to swing once more. With seemingly nothing on and Richmond’s influence on the game wavering, James Kane produced a moment of magic to break the line and execute a simple two on one to put James Lennon in for a simple score. The former converted and it was game on.
Moments later it was all square as the equally influential Huw Worthington powered his way over, following more good work from the boot of Kane – the centre once again converting for 14-14.
Another key moment came just before the break, with Matt Bolwell yellow carded for what appeared to be a high shot with the flash point naturally ensuing. Unfortunately this further galvanised the hosts and Championship top scorer and familiar face Mark Bright rumbled over at the back of a powerful drive to give Richmond a lead few would have foreseen at 0-14. Kane extended to 21-14 at the interval.
The Pirates were facing a familiar task to the previous week against Coventry and early in the second 40, it appeared they were about to tell a familiar story. Finally getting some field position to use the maul as an attacking weapon, Duncan was able to get his second from short range. Bazalgette hit the post in the difficult windy conditions from out wide. 21-19.
The home side would have been all too aware of the Pirates ability to turn this one around and played a smart game in the second period. Kane kept the scoreboard ticking and the home half backs controlled field position well, to make it tough for the Pirates to launch an attacking platform.
With time ticking away the game’s moment of controversy came and it would go the Pirates way. Battering away at the line for several phases, Matt Bolwell went over for the equalising and bonus point score. Was the referee in the way of the home defenders? The RAG certainly thought so, but crucially the referee did not and all square we were again. Bazalgette unbelievably hit the post again amidst home hostility, still simmering from the ruling.
24-24 and surely no more drama with three minutes left? Wrong. There was still time for Kane to narrowly miss a 55m penalty and the Pirates to launch a multi phase attack, that eventually saw the away side dragged into touch. A probable deserved share of the points but a frustrating one and a chance missed for the Pirates.
Speaking after the game Assistant Coach Louie Tonkin said it was a case of two points dropped.
We’ll look back at today thinking it was two points thrown away. We felt in the first 20 minutes we had the upper hand and scored some points, so we feel like we were in a position to come away with the points today. It’s not the end of the world but it’s not what we came here for.
The boys worked hard, but that wasn’t quite us today. We were a bit clunky in attack, there were too many errors and penalties and we were disappointed with our defensive maul. We have to regroup and get ready for next week now.
Next up for the Pirates is London Scottish at the Mennaye next Saturday, 12 February (Kick Off 2.30pm).