Aug 24, 2018
Match Report: Storm 25-12 Richmond
A young Saracens Storm team were made to battle hard for a narrow pre-season win over Championship side Richmond at Allianz Park.
Anthony Maka crashed over midway through the first half and Manu Vunipola added eight points from the boot before Richmond’s Jordan Simpson-Hefft replied.
Hayden Thompson-Stringer furthered Storm’s advantage but Nick Scott’s try made it 18-12 with 20 minutes remaining.
Richmond were relentless in attack after their second try, but Storm stood firm and grabbed another try through Sean Reffell to ensure victory.
The heavens poured just before kick-off making the Allianz Park surface slick, causing several handling errors in the opening exchanges.
Richmond saw a lot of the ball in that period with Storm needing to be at their best to prevent an early breakthrough – back rowers Reffell and Maka the chief operators around the fringes.
A real defensive shift kept the away side at bay for almost 10 close-range phases before great work at the ruck allowed Vunipola to superbly punt clear via a penalty.
Their efforts in D were rewarded moments later. Vunipola again showing his expertise with a precise kick to the corner and after Richmond carried over their own line under pressure, Saracens capitalised.
Fresh out of a fast-moving scrum, Tom Woolstencroft bounced off a couple of tackles and when he finally hit the deck, Maka picked up and powered over.
Vunipola added the extras and then slotted a penalty following a prolonged period of camping inside Richmond’s 22.
The England Under-18 international’s next shot at goal came from the 40-metre mark and despite the wind and rain, he put three points on the scoreboard with a sweet strike before Simpson-Hefft squeezed over in the corner for Richmond in response.
With the second half in its infancy, Storm’s pack nudged themselves over the whitewash with Thompson-Stringer emerging with the ball from underneath a pile-up to extend their lead by 11.
However, that was cut once again when Richmond tightened things up with a number of charges up the middle before swinging the ball wide for Nick Scott to slide in.
The score gave Rich an obvious boost but in a 10-minute spell of hammering runs at the Storm defence, they couldn’t breach it; Vunipola making the final strip to present an opportunity to clear and with Reffell’s score, ending the contest.