Richmond underlined their strong mid season form with a four try, five point 32-13 win over first time visitors Sedgley on Saturday.
Having been well beaten in the away fixture, Richmond knew they would need full concentration to ensure a home victory and on this occasion had to overcome three yellow cards and a piercing cold wind which tested both spectators and players.
Richmond were happy to announce an unchanged team for the fourth consecutive fixture, probably to the envy of their Manchester-based opponents, who have encountered harsh times in recent weeks with a big injury list and a complete enforced change in the coaching team.
As a result, the home team started off looking full of confidence and had their first points on the board within the initial two minutes.
From a line out, Will Browne was sent haring down the touchline and when the ball was quickly recycled, lock Chris Davies showed impressive pace to loop round a static defence and canter in with ease from twenty-five metres. Tom Platt converted, missing only one kick all afternoon.
Richmond maintained the pressure and a sequence of scrums had Sedgley Park trapped in their 22 as their opponents tried to make use of an inviting blindside.
When a knock on allowed the visitors temporary relief, Richmond took a quick line out and flanker Tom Sargeant was stopped by a high tackle, which earned Richard Oxley ten minutes in the sin bin and a penalty, converted by full back Platt.
Richmond’s grip on the game was reinforced five minutes later.
James Greenwood made good ground to set up a strong attacking position and, from the line out, the home forwards swept forward twenty metres with an all powerful rolling maul.
When the visitors pulled down the maul for the second time, referee David Procter had little choice other than to card William Emerson and Richmond had a relatively simple task to drive over against the six man pack, Chris Davies getting his second try of the game.
Platt’s excellent conversion took the score to a convincing 17-0 and Sedgley Park looked to be in for a tough afternoon.
To their credit, the Tigers now worked their way back into the match, skipper Matt Riley always to the fore, and Richmond probably took their feet off the gas.
With the home side enjoying the chance to throw the ball around with some abandon, Park demonstrated the virtue of retaining possession, working Tom Leader skilfully into clear space down the left wing after spreading the ball wide on both flanks.
Richmond now suffered an additional blow when ever present prop Timmy Walford had to be escorted off with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Elliott Booley.
However, five minutes later, Richmond scored the try of the match to restore their lead.
The score originated from turnover ball deep in their 22 and the ball was quickly and skilfully fed out to Greenwood, flanker Sargeant timing his pass beautifully.
The winger still had sixty metres to go and he used his pace well to establish some initial space before weaving his way bewilderingly inside and outside to power over in the corner, the touch judge being well placed to nod approval.
On the brink of half time, Matt Riley offered his side some hope with a well struck penalty after the home side were pinged for not rolling away.
Richmond tried to take advantage of the prevailing wind in the second half but the Tigers countered well and fully earned their second penalty, after the home side were penalised and warned for offside under their posts.
The visitors were given further heart on the re-start when the flying Browne fractionally mistimed his charge after the high ball and was inevitably given the third yellow card of the day.
However, on the day, Sedgley Park could never gain advantage from any extra numbers and Platt restored calm with a penalty seven minutes later, the referee seeming to indicate a swinging arm.
The crucial fourth try and bonus point was scored with nine minutes left.
When Jason Phipps needed temporary attention to re-fix a contact lens, the alert Steve Wood took on throwing in duties, finding his outstanding skipper and man of the match Will Warden, and the pack, reinforced by a sprinting Phipps, drove powerfully forward.
With the maul inevitably pulled down a few metres short of the line, Wood made further ground before substitute Robbie Shaw spotted a gap and nipped through, close to the posts. Platt’s confident conversion was the final score of the game.
The remaining minutes featured two more yellow cards, Wood and Booley both getting marching orders within a minute of each other as Richmond defended a final brave attack by the Tigers.
More positively, David Burr made a welcome reappearance after a long and difficult lay-off.
However, the game ended with uncontested scrums and when Matt Keville was tackled inches short of the line, everyone was happy to hear the final whistle and to find the warm sanctuary of the bar.