Cinderford 28 Richmond 29
CINDERFORD sank further into the relegation mire as Richmond broke hearts at Dockham Road in the narrowest of defeats.
The rearranged National One fixture was one Cinderford had targeted as a must-win but a losing bonus point was their only return as Rob Kirby’s last-gasp penalty in front of the posts saw the mid-table visitors snatch the spoils.
The Foresters have slipped to second from bottom in the league and though they have two games in hand, this defeat has taught the side those games mean nothing if you cannot win them.
There is no doubt the standard of refereeing at the ruck was inconsistent, with Elliott Booley and Ed King receiving yellow cards while Richmond, who infringed at least four times at the breakdown in the red zone, got away with just a warning.
Though disappointed director of rugby Andy Deacon was frustrated with the “soft penalty” that ultimately sank Cinderford, he believed more should have been done earlier in the game to avoid such a nerve-shredding conclusion.
He said: “The overriding thought right now is that we got into a position to win it and with a soft penalty at the end we managed to lose it and it was taken away from us.
“We played a lot better in the second half than we did in the first half so we just have to put two halves together now.
“We need more control of the game. Richmond are a good side with big guys and big runners and they were asking questions of us all the time.
“In the first half we dropped off too many tackles and gave away soft tries and it was those soft points that hurt us.
“Yes, they kicked in the last minute to win it but we should have been stronger in our defensive performance to ensure it doesn’t come to that.”
In the reverse fixture, Richmond subjected Cinderford to a humiliating 55-20 defeat and in the opening stages, they threatened to run away with the game once again.
Wrecking ball wing Duncan Peters gave the visitors an early lead when he broke through covering tackles to dive over in the third minute and dire defensive work allowed Richmond to extend their lead in the 11th minute, despite a Mark Davies penalty for the hosts.
A plethora of missed tackles allowed the visitors a run-in from halfway and saw lock Chris Davies go over in the corner to make the score 12-3.
But Cinderford then managed to score 12 unanswered points when prop Booley was in the bin.
In a fantastic piece of play, wing Nev Codlin won the chase to scrum-half Clive Stuart-Smith’s cross-field kick to dart over for an unconverted try.
Davies then found a gap to attack the line and selflessly offloaded to centre Adams for Cinderford’s second try and a 15-12 lead at the break.
But it was these glaring first-half defensive mistakes that would come back to haunt the side as they watched full-back Kirby’s penalty sail over with two minutes left on the clock.
Cinderford started the second half with 14 men after Ed King saw yellow and Richmond capitalised on the number deficit with Peter’s second try.
In response, a Cinderford driving maul muscled over, with replacement prop Will Davis planting the ball, and Davies’ conversion gave the hosts a 22-19 lead.
Cinderford opted for a penalty to extend their lead to 25-19 but Richmond hit back with a 70th-minute try for wing Rob Alexander to regain a one point lead.
Davies’ penalty minutes later soared over and it looked set to win the game – or so the home fans thought.
Sport can be cruel and don’t Cinderford know it. They conceded the penalty in the 78th minute and Kirby made no mistake.
CINDERFORD: M Wilcox, N Codlin, J Adams, R Winchle, S Baker, M Davies, C Stuart-Smith (D Pointon, 69), C Bundy (W Davis, 51), K Britton (T Bozzard, 43), E Booley, E King (L Randall, 69), T Hicks, A Balding, M Brown, G Evans (c).
Rep: S Hawley.
RICHMOND: R Kirby, D Peters, J Falconer, M Keville, R Alexander, R Damant, J Gibbs, A Lyon (J Gethings, 53), T Coolican (63), D Parkinson, C Lenygon, C Davies, T Shaw, J Thompson (H Edwards, 63), J Attlee (c).
Reps: J Kyle, L Grimoldby.
REFEREE: Philip Davies
STAR MAN: Mike Wilcox