RAMS Director of Rugby Seb Reynolds believes his side are still well in the hunt for the National One title despite a 22-17 defeat to Richmond in front of a bumper crowd at Old Bath Road, writes Richard Ashton.

More than 1,100 fans turned out to watch the top two collide in what turned out to be a dramatic encounter, Rams securing a last-gasp losing bonus-point with the final play of the game.

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And Reynolds reflected: “It was a really good game between two really good sides. A lot of credit must go to Richmond, they came here and they did a really good job. They attacked through multiple phases, put us on the back foot and they kept the ball well in the second half. It stopped us from getting those moments where we could really put pressure on.

“It didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, but we nicked a bonus-point which could be important and we’ll come again. The season is not over and will continue to ebb and flow. We have a group of really talented rugby players.”

It was the away side who bossed the early exchanges, pinning Rams in their own half until a Jack Moates clearance kick was charged down allowing flanker Chris Allman to score the opening try.

Tom Hodgson added the extras to make it 7-0, but the hosts hit back in spectacular style.

Firstly, Conor Corrigan – celebrating his 100 th appearance for Rams – made a magnificent break down the left which enabled Ollie Taylor to go over in the corner, and shortly after a beautiful cross-field kick from Alex Seers was collected by Jak Rossiter for the hosts’ second score. After 22 minutes, Reynolds’ men were 10-7 up.

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However, Richmond continued to look dangerous and went into half-time with a two-point advantage after wing Hamish Graham crossed on the left following a spell of sustained pressure.

The away side continued to dominate possession and territory in the second period, only for the sensational Rams defence to repel them even in the 10 minutes James Baker was sin-binned for handling in the ruck on his own try line.

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A 68 th-minute Hodgson penalty pushed Richmond’s lead to 15-10, and they landed the decisive blow with four minutes remaining when full back Louis Molloy crossed the whitewash for a converted score.

It was Rams who were to have the last word, though, their efforts deservedly rewarded with a bonus-point when a 13-man rolling maul crashed over the line in front of the clubhouse, Tom Vooght the ultimate beneficiary on the scoresheet. Seers added the extras, but the full-time whistle came immediately afterwards.

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Further reflecting on the contest and in particular another heroic defensive effort from his side, Reynolds said: “The game was always going to ebb and flow. At half-time we were well in the game and even with 10 minutes to go we were.

“The way we had to defend through multiple phases is testament to the players’ desire and how hard they work for each other.

“Stevie Bryant was brilliant. The way he patrols that area in defence, the way he comes off the line and shuts down attackers in the wider channels, when they try to go outside him he just chops them down. He’s a lesson to anyone in how to chop tackle and while he’s not the biggest guy, defensively he’s the most outstanding centre I’ve seen.”

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The defeat saw Rams drop to third in the table, three points behind Richmond and one adrift of Rosslyn Park, with a trip to struggling Hull Ionians awaiting next Saturday.

But Reynolds warned: “There are no easy games. Hull are a good side and we have to switch on each and every week – we can’t switch off and let teams into the contest.”

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Despite the defeat, Reynolds remained proud not just of his players, but the effect the season has had on the local area, with a crowd of 1,131 flocking to Old Bath Road.

He concluded: “The players have captured the feeling of the club, and the support from the minis and juniors is exceptional. It’s just the best feeling to have the support from the local area and it was a great occasion for the club to have this crowd.

“I can’t thank people enough for coming out and supporting these players. I’m sorry we couldn’t get the result, but it was brilliant to have the place like this. The atmosphere was fantastic and we hope this is the beginning, so hopefully we’ll have a few more days like this in the future.”

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