Rugby Union: Chapman's brace adds some steel

Richmond 43 New South Wales 24
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The Independent Online
In The third match of their British tour, New South Wales at last met the opposition their status deserved, and although it cost them an unbeaten record, it produced a match of fast, skilful movement, inventive passing and prolonged suspense until it exhausted its resources midway through the second half.

The NSW side - minus the eight men from their state of origin who are on tour with the Wallabies in Buenos Aires or on the injury list - arrived as trail-blazers for their country, who play England at Twickenham in a week's time. But the press and public, glutted with international competition, have refused to get excited about the visit, and the trail has been about as effective as the crumbs dropped by the Babes in the Wood.

They have been disappointed by this, especially since they comfortably beat both their opening opponents, the Scottish Borders and London Irish, by 45 points or more. Unfortunately the waves they made inside the grounds were ripples by the time they passed out through the gates. This left them hoping not to be so conspicuously undermatched by Richmond.

It certainly didn't look as though that would be the problem as NSW began sluggishly - one of their defenders still turning back and waving his arms to organise the defence behind him while Ben Clarke brushed past him. Within 11 minutes Richmond were 10 points up, with a penalty from their stand-off, Earl Va'a, and a try majestically completed by their captain, Ben Clarke. Va'a converted.

That was the last spell for 40 minutes in which Richmond were to have it easy. NSW came together and developed the kind of inter-passing between forwards and backs that you would be disappointed not to see from a Southern Hemisphere side.

Its fruits were a try from their five-eighths, Manuel Edmonds, with a finely judged curving inside break. He made the conversion himself. And although Scott Quinnell scored a try from a disintegrating scrum on the NSW line, Nathan Grey, the NSW inside-centre, closed the gap to a point with a try from a penalty which Edmonds converted.

On the half-hour, Richmond conceded the lead to a run down the left wing by Semi Teporafe, who scored his try through pure pace. Yet if that looked like swinging the game, Dominic Chapman, the Richmond left-wing, had spun it around in their favour once more with two remarkable tries of speed and dexterity, for which the sponsors named him Man of the Match. And these, with a second conversion by Va'a, left them leading 27-19 at the interval. But with both sides risking everything on impromptu attack there was still no sniff of a bankable result.

A period of heavy Richmond pressure early in the second half pointed more clearly in their favour. And although it produced no splits in the NSW defence, it was used by Va'a to kick two more penalties, putting Richmond 14 points ahead.

Driving rain lent a hand, reducing much of the remaining game to a scramble. But still Richmond with tries on the right wing and then on the left from Jim Fallon, settled it, despite a second, neatly taken try by Teporafe.

Richmond: M Pini; D Chapman, A Bateman, J Wright, J Fallon; E Va'a, A Moore; D Crompton, B Williams, J Davies, A Codling, G Gillies, B Clarke (capt), S Barlow, S Quinnell.

New South Wales: S Staniforth; S Teporafe, M Nakauta, N Grey, M Dowling; M Edmonds, C Whitaker; T Daly, P Kearne (capt), W De Jonge, J Hart, S Domoni, C Pither, K Gleeson, S Talbot.

Referee: D Chapman (England).

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