Rugby Union: Chapman brings inspiration to leave Bristol floundering

Richmond 43 Bristol 3
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The Independent Online
IT IS DOUBTFUL whether one of the so-called wet bikes would have been able to cover the swamp formerly known as the Richmond Athletic Ground as quickly as Dominic Chapman was able to yesterday. So light on his feet was he that Chapman made the going seem good to firm rather than waterlogged.

The speedy 22-year-old England A wing broke every water speed limit and Bristol found it impossible to police him as he zipped and zapped his way to a deserved hat-trick of tries in Richmond's runaway rout over the Allied Dunbar Premiership basement side and inflict on them a club record eighth consecutive League defeat.

The enigma that is Richmond continues to confound. If they are not playing like drains, e.g. against Northampton, they are playing like a dream. It did not matter that this match was played in atrocious conditions; bitterly cold, heavy rain and latterly a thunderstorm. On the pitch though it was the Richmond forwards who provided the thunder with Chapman their bolt of lightning. Bath on Monday is suddenly a mouth-watering prospect.

The Richmond forwards set the pattern of events with a try within 90 seconds. A well-worked line-out move saw the lock of the day, Craig Gillies, take the throw on the line and return the ball instantly to hooker Barry Williams, who neatly slipped it to Craig Quinnell cutting to the front at pace. He steamed over unopposed.

Bristol's only points came from a Paul Hull penalty shortly after, but then Allan Bateman touched down after rugby's equivalent of a Texas scramble and Richmond were away. Another line-out move followed, this time the Richmond captain, Ben Clarke, caught the ball after opting once again for the touch kick instead of going for goal, but normal service was resumed as Quinnell rumbled over for his second.

Then Chapman took over. A 22-metre drop-out saw the outstanding full- back, Matt Pini, break clear, he fed Chapman and the Richmond flier needed no further help as he scorched upfield. His best try, and his longest, came in the second half after Richmond's other wing, the immensely talented Spencer Brown, had gone over from close range. Pini ran it from deep in his own 22, then spun a long pass out to Chapman. He left two men floundering and accelerated over the 10-metre line. A change of gear and he took on two more Bristol tugboats before powering on to touch down having covered fully 70 metres.

The winger completed his hat-trick five minutes later from close range. With the help of the fly-half, Adrian Davies, who converted four of their seven tries, Richmond drew to within two points of their highest League score of the season and have hauled themselves into a more comfortable mid-table position for the time being.

Richmond: Tries Quinnell 2, Bateman, Chapman 3, Brown; Conversions A Davies 4.

Bristol: Penalty Hull.

Richmond: M Pini; S Brown, A Bateman (E Va'a, 63), J Wright, D Chapman; A Davies, A Moore; D McFarland (D Crompton, 60), B Williams (A Cuthbert, 70), J Davies, C Quinnell (A Codling, 55), C Gillies, R Hutton (C Palmer, 34), B Clarke (capt), A Vander.

Bristol: P Hull; S Jones (M Armstrong, 67), S Martin, K Maggs, D Yapp; G Baber, R Jones (capt); A Poole, F Landreau (K Dunn, 67), K Fullman (J Wring, 67), C Eagle, T Devergie (P Adams, 41), A Charron, E Rollitt, D Corkery (J Brownrigg, 55).

Referee: S Lander (Liverpool)