National 2 South
Old Elthamians 16, Taunton Titans 22

THIS was billed as the game of the weekend in National 2 South and it certainly lived up to the billing with a close, hard fought game that went down to the final play of the game, writes Keith Brooking.

The Titans played with the wind in the first half and took the game straight to the visitors with number 8 Sam Prior going close straight from the kick off.

Taunton kept the pressure on the hosts but it was Old Elthamians who got the first points of the game when they kicked a penalty after 20 minutes with one of their first sets of phases in the Taunton half.

The visitors went straight back on the attack and were rewarded with a try scored by back row Dan Frost to give the Titans the lead at 5-3.

But Old Elthamians took the lead once again with another well-taken penalty after some good phase play.

With the half-time whistle due Taunton went on the attack once again and a well-judged kick by full back Gary Kingdom was skilfully gathered by Freddie Fraser who took the ball one-handed in front of his winger and went past him in one movement to then race clear and score in the corner to give the Titans the half time lead 10-6.

With OE’s having the wind advantage and the introduction of former Titan Oli Claxton, they upped the tempo and went on the attack and Taunton then went down to 14 when prop Alec Chase was sent to the sin bin.

While he was in the bin the Titans extended their lead with a try for Ratu Vakalutukali.

As the yellow card was finishing Old Elthamians closed the gap with a third penalty.

The home side were now in the ascendency and were keeping Taunton deep in their own half.

As the Titans tried to run the ball out from defence the ball was spilled and OEs capitalised when winger Dominic Lespierre scored.

The important conversion was added to give them a one-point lead with just over 10 minutes to go.

The game then started flowing back and forth with both sides trying to find the killer blow but the defences were resolute.

Taunton got a penalty with time up and tapped and went. They started to work their way up the field and after several phases were deep in the OE’s 22.

With the forwards driving towards the line trying to create the chance for a drop goal one of the home forwards strayed off side and a penalty was awarded in front of the posts.

With an easy three points on offer and the chance to win the game the Taunton supporters waited for Kingdom to kick the points, but the full-back had other ideas.

As the home side made their way behind the posts Kingdom tapped the ball and dove over the line to score the Titans bonus point try.

He added the conversion to give the Titans a memorable 22-16 victory.

Taunton Titans: Kingdom, Popham, Mason (Capt), Tichias, Fraser, East (Massy-Birch 40), Webb, Chase (Prior 57), Gatford (Spurdle 50), Roofe, Persey (Gibbs 49), Lugg (Lonsdale 40), Vakalutukali, Frost, Prior (Caulfield 49).