Rams RFC score late to win 13-try thriller in Richmond – Reading Today Online

Axel Kalling-Smith set-up two scores with powerful breaks

RAMS RFC came out on top in an astonishing 13-try match at Richmond to maintain their place at the top of the National One table.

In a season which continues to serve up cracker after cracker, the visitors found themselves 12-0 down inside the opening quarter as Luc Jones and Luke Spring crossed from close range, Alex Burrage converting the latter.

Yet it was Rams who led at the break, Fraser Honey adding the extras to scores from Ellis Jones and Charlie Robson, before they moved further in front five minutes into the second period as Ant Marris barged over for another seven-pointer.

From there the two sides slugged things out like heavyweight boxers, Richmond next on the scoreboard as Luc Jones doubled his tally before Burrage landed the kick.

A Henry Bird beauty was cancelled out by Ntinga Mpoku before Robson’s second was matched by Tom Hitchcock, Rams by this point down to 13 men following yellow cards for Dan Swain and Marris.

Leading 35-33 as the game entered the final eight minutes, the visitors grabbed a penalty try when a powerful maul was illegally hauled down, but Richmond refused to yield and Burrage landed a stunning touchline conversion after Will Kay hauled in a cross-field chip.

However, Rams finally sealed the deal right at the death, Max Hayman riding a maul over the line to send the sizable away support home happy.

Reynolds said: “It was another amazing National One game. This competition is so close in terms of the quality on offer from every team, but it’s the way it should be and fantastic.

“We’d not won here before and in our first season in National One they gave us a beating. They went up to the Championship and they’ve been there since, the place still retains a Championship feel – it’s a brilliant atmosphere and it was never going to be an easy game.

“To score 47 points and come away with a win is a testament to the lads – with the score you’d think was it a defence optional game, but it wasn’t.

“There was good attack on show – our phase-play defence was strong apart from when we released the valve on them a couple of times, and they were very good near our line.”

He added: “We had to comeback, but when we did it felt like we might take the game away from them. But credit to what they brought – they had injuries they had to manage – and then when we were down to 13 men suddenly, you’re thinking ‘oh’.

“But the character we showed, and tactically we got it spot on – we stayed down in the corner and got the try – was important and very pleasing.”

A feature of the away win was the depth offered by Rams in attack, Bird’s marvellous try a testament to his team’s intentions, and Reynolds continued: “There are so many things we’re working on to try and improve as a side – we’re focussed on that every week and what’s great is the guys are so keen to put it into action.

“It’s easier said than done and when you’re under pressure it’s not easy, but we’re doing it and it’s good.

“We’re also doing it with younger players coming into the squad, albeit balanced by the likes of the sublime Birdy. The way he glided through the middle was just lovely.”

With CEO Gary Reynolds urging his side’s supporters to ‘turn the RAG blue’ after the epic late win against Plymouth Albion the week before, his call was answered with seemingly more than half of a bumper crowd in excess of 1,200 backing the away side.

And the noisy Rams’ army received the final word from the DoR, he said: “We had fantastic travelling support, and they got an incredible game of rugby.

“What they brought was brilliant. When the lads were going in for the start of the game, they had a big cheer and the supporters got behind the lads so well. I’m so thankful to them.”

Rams next head to Chinnor for a top-of-the-table showdown under the Friday Night Lights (7.45pm) in what promises to be another memorable occasion.

By Richard Ashton

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