Rugby Union: Richmond 23 Bath 30 - Kingston lays down the rules

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JOHN KINGSTON had a warning for Richmond after a turbulent and distressing week, which began with the off-loading of 34 members of staff and ended with Allied Dunbar Premiership One defeat against Bath.

If the club were contemplating turning any one of their remaining assets - the players - into cash, they can think again. The jobs that had to be shed have gone; the players who were regarded as surplus to financial requirements have been ditched. According to the administrators the club is back on an even financial keel.

But with rumours about a posse of French, Welsh and English clubs clamouring to sign Wales lock Craig Quinnell, Kingston is understandably worried about the temptation such interest might bring for a financial quick fix, so it was not surprising that he said: "If I had an offer for Craig and it was accepted by the club then I would say `OK, if he goes, I go'. And that would go for other players too. The club will save themselves some money with me then.

"We will not sell players against their wishes at this club if I am here. You do not win anything by selling your best players, and unless there is a fundamental playing reason why you let a player go you do not sell players."

And Richmond want to win things. They are perfectly capable of winning things. They are within touching distance of the Tetley's Bitter Cup, having reached the semi-finals with a home tie against Newcastle on Easter weekend. It was possibly the prospect of that forthcoming attraction as well as the record crowd which contributed to the positive mood at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, despite their defeat after a gutsy display against Bath.

There was an irony that Richmond, having waited all season to break the 10,000 barrier, only did so once they had gone into administration. But with some attractive league fixtures coming up there is every likelihood of further attendance records.

Bath gave away too many penalties whenever play moved within range of Mike Catt's accurate right boot and their backs allowed themselves to be split open twice in the space of two first-half minutes. Jeremy Guscott in midfield was ever ready to probe the opposition and Adedayo Adebayo and Matt Perry, the two try-scorers, were invariably up in support and threatened throughout. But Richmond did at least have a stab at getting into the game.

The eye-catching open-side flanker Adam Vander closed the gap with a well-worked try which owed as much to scrum-half Agustin Pichot and the power of centre Jason Wright as it did to the supporting run that took Vander over the line.

When Vander's back row colleague Robbie Hutton, an armful of problems for any defence, finished off another move begun by Pichot to bring Richmond to within four points of their opponents, there was a collective holding of breath until Catt put the final boot in for a personal haul of 20 points.

Richmond: Tries Vander, Hutton; Conversions Va'a 2; Penalties Va'a 3. Bath: Tries Adebayo, Perry; Conversion Catt; Penalties Catt 6.

Richmond: M Pini (L Best, 23-29); N Walne, J Wright, M Dixon (M Deane, 77), S Brown; E Va'a, A Pichot; D McFarland, B Williams, D Crompton, A Sheridan, C Gillies, R Hutton, B Clarke (capt), A Vander (B Cusack, 60- 65).

Bath: M Perry; I Balshaw, K Maggs, J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, G Cooper; D Hilton, M Regan, V Ubogu (J Mallett, 76), M Haag, S Borthwick, R Earnshaw, D Lyle, R Bryan.

Referee: G Hughes (Manchester).

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