Rugby Union: Johnson in command amid chaos
Saracens 33 Richmond 17
Monday 09 November 1998
A penalty count of 37 was not a great advertisement for the so-called liberalism of southern hemisphere referees. The Australian official, Stuart Dickinson, takes charge of Wales' Test against South Africa next Saturday and on this showing it will be more stop than start. There was none of their much-vaunted continuity, other than in the infringements. It contributed to a bitty match; scrappy, untidy and, not surprisingly, littered with errors. Chances went begging on both sides and tackles were missed by Richmond.
And they were not the only things missed. Richmond began without Scott Quinnell, who had a neck injury, and John Kingston, their director of rugby, said he thought the Wales No 8 had played his last game for the London club, with Llanelli reported to be on the brink of signing him, probably later this week.
However, as Kingston said, Richmond had not done too badly without Quinnell, until yesterday's disappointment, and while they are certain to look for a replacement they will probably not be in a hurry to do so.
There were, at least, some tries to lift the mood of the 9,217 crowd, two from Steve Ravenscroft, one from Gavin Johnson as well as a lung-bursting effort from the Richmond full-back, Earl Va'a, that came too late to change the result.
In fact, though, the match turned into something of a Johnson show, the South African playing his first game for a long time at stand-off, because Alain Penaud was laid up with a badly bruised leg.
His try was superbly worked, Tony Diprose picking up from a scrum, Kyran Bracken spinning it out and Johnson picking up a return pass from Ravenscroft before diving over close enough to the posts to make the conversion a formality.
There were some other bright spots in a half which saw Johnson land all four of his penalties. The right wing Brian Taylor, making his first start, looks like dynamite.
There were some athletes in the Saracens pack as well. England lock Danny Grewcock and the whole of the back row in particular carved swathes through any slack defending, and the tackling by the home team was at all times exemplary.
The knock-out blow came early in the second half when Ravenscroft rounded off a move and Johnson converted. Although Richmond pulled back a couple of scores through the debutant Rich Butland's boot, a penalty try after a particularly attritional 10-minute spell of three line-outs and seven scrums (all while Grewcock was kicking his heels in the sin bin for not releasing the ball at a penalty), and Va'a's try, it was too late.
Saracens: Tries Johnson, Ravenscroft 2; Conversions Johnson 3; Penalties Johnson 4. Richmond: Tries Penalty try, Va'a; Conversions Butland 2; Penalty Butland.
Saracens: M Singer; B Taylor, R Constable, S Ravenscroft, R Wallace; G Johnson, K Bracken (B Free, 70); B Reidy (Olver, 64), G Chuter, P Wallace, P Johns, D Grewcock, T Coker (P Ogilvie, 70), T Diprose (capt), R Hill.
Richmond: E Va'a; N Walne, J Wright, M Dixon, S Brown; R Butland, A Moore; D McFarland, B Williams, D Crompton (J Davies, 33), C Quinnell, C Gillies, R Hutton (L Cabannes, 68), B Clarke (capt), A Vander.
Referee: S Dickinson (Sydney, Aus).
Latest in Sport
Manny Pacquiao secures $12.5m mansion by giving seller four tickets to 2 May fight with Floyd Mayweather
WrestleMania 31: What time does it start? Full match card and preview ahead of WWE event
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
Manchester United transfer news: Chris Smalling and Phil Jones face uncertain future with contract renewal talks on hold
Malaysia Grand Prix 2015 LIVE: Sebastian Vettel wins in just his second race with Ferrari with Lewis Hamilton second and Nico Rosberg third
- 1 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...