Rugby Union: Grayson gets his kicks by giving Richmond a very trying time

Richmond 21 Northampton 24
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Pragmatic overcame pretty as multinational Richmond surrendered their phenomenal unbeaten home record which stretched back more than two seasons to their days in the old Courage League Division Three.

This was the 26th home game and one man ended it - Northampton's stand- off, Paul Grayson. The words travesty and boring may be on the lips of Richmond supporters, especially since their side scored all three tries in the match, but Northampton came to the Athletic Ground with a game plan, and gave nothing away, nor did the referee Stuart Piercy. At times in the first half he looked as if he was penalising Richmond for moving, but the home side did not help their cause. They did not click until late in the match - too late to help themselves.

Grayson, the England outside-half, who scored 26 points for a more expansive Saints on the previous trip to this area at London Irish last week, scored all 24 this time. "It was a crap day at the office," Grayson admitted, "but it's still two points."

Grayson's immaculate kicking saw Richmond punished to the tune of seven penalties and Grayson added a 51st-minute drop goal from 30 yards to keep his side clear of their desperate opponents, but Richmond have every right to feel aggrieved.

While Northampton wanted to keep things tight, the home side tried to play fast and loose. Two of their tries were scored by their wings, Dominic Chapman and Jason Wright. Scott Quinnell's opening try, courtesy of baby brother Craig's line-out take early in the first half, promised much, but Richmond ceded their interval lead, and had nothing to show for their contribution to a thrilling finish.

If the full-back Matt Pini had been on target with the conversions, as he was with two penalties, it would have been a different story. As it was the only consistent thing about Richmond was that they continued to transgress and Mr Piercy unfailingly blew his whistle.

"He was appalling," said John Kingston, Richmond's director of rugby. "The game was played at the referee's tempo, not ours." Ian McGeechan, Northampton's coach, naturally took a different view. "He was consistent, blowing up for the same things from the first minute to the last. We kept it tight and their only way of getting hands on the ball was illegal."

Saints have a long march to the top of the Allied Dunbar Premiership, but their last two games have proved they have the adaptability to get there. Richmond need to harness their awesome forward horsepower.

Richmond: Tries S Quinnell, Chapman, Wright; Penalties Pini 2. Northampton: Penalties Grayson 7; Drop goal Grayson.

Richmond: M Pini; J Wright, A Bateman, M Hutton, D Chapman; E Va'a, A Moore; D Crompton, B Williams, J Davies, C Quinnmell, C Gillies, R Martin (R Hutton, 57), B Clarke, S Quinnell.

Northampton: J Bell; J Sleightholme, G Townsend, A Northey, B Cohen; P Grayson, M Dawson; G Pagel, A Clarke, M Stewart, J Phillips, J Chandler, D Mackinnon, B Pountney, T Rodber.

Referee: S Piercy (Hull).