Battling Elthamians gave National One league leaders Richmond an almighty scare in atrocious conditions at College Meadow on Saturday before falling agonisingly short of victory.
OEs were forced to play nearly two thirds of the game with only 14 men following the first half sending off of hooker Jared Saunders for a tip tackle.
But with the strong wind behind them after the break, they fought back bravely from a 9-0 deficit and had three kicks at goal in the final quarter to snatch what would have been a famous victory.
With Storm Dennis playing havoc with proceedings in South East London, both sides struggled to hold on to the wet ball or establish any rhythm to their play.
It was the first time Richmond had failed to cross the whitewash in a game this season yet with the conditions in their favour in the first half, they started confidently, dominating territory and possession and pinning OEs in their own 22 for long periods.
But in a contest of few try-scoring chances, they were unable to breach miserly home defence and were indebted to the boot of fly-half Tom Hodgson who calmly kicked three penalties to give them a 9-0 interval lead.
The second half saw a total reversal as OEs took a stranglehold up front with their hard-working forwards keeping hold of the ball well and building patiently through multiple phases.
They were rewarded for their industry with the only try of the game on 45 minutes. A driven lineout in the Richmond 22 saw prop Austin Hay cap an outstanding man of the match display when he crashed over from close range.
With the league leaders forced on the back foot and under heavy pressure, they conceded three penalties in quick succession midway inside their own half. But with the gale force wind blowing across the pitch making life extremely difficult for kickers, OEs fly-half Marc Koteczky pushed the kicks wide of the posts and Richmond hung on for the win.
PICTURES BY IAN CARTER
Main Pic: Flanker Harry Ledger drives into the Richmond defence
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