National Two South

Taunton Titans 10, Bishop's Stortford 39

A DOMINANT second half showing by Bishop's Stortford cost Taunton Titans as they fell to a convincing defeat which leaves their promotion hopes hanging by a thread, writes Paul Martin.

Bishop’s Stortford ran in 29 unanswered points after the interval to turn what had for 40 minutes been a closely fought contest into a deserved victory for the high-flying visitors.

The away team were on the attack from the off and should have opened the scoring when James Rea sprinted clear down the left.

The winger looked set to score before surprisingly shipping the ball inside to a teammate, who knocked on in the process of putting the ball down.

Taunton made the most of their let-off by opening the scoring themselves soon afterwards after Gary Kingdom decided to kick a penalty to the corner instead of going for the points.

The decision paid dividends when a powerful drive from the lineout forced the Titans pack over, with Dan Frost eventually credited with the score.

Kingdom slotted the extras to cap the home side’s great start, but the visitors got themselves back on terms with a sublime piece of play that showed why they are flying high in the league.

Fly-half Tom Coleman started the move, receiving the ball on halfway before placing a delicate chip over the Titans defensive line.

Outside centre Nick Hankin was then the beneficiary, as he made the most of the kind bounce and sprinted clear under the posts for an excellent try which Thomas Banks converted.

Both sides were making uncharacteristic errors as the half went on – Taunton had three lineouts stolen and the visitors twice failed to find touch from routine penalties – but that simply added to the drama in front of a big crowd at Hyde Park.

Kingdom restored Taunton’s lead with a penalty from the 22 but the two sides ended up going into the break level after Banks punished a Vakalutukali high tackle with a penalty of his own to make the score 10-10 at the interval.

Bishop’s Stortford took the lead for the first time in the match shortly after the break when Banks slotted over a penalty, and they stretched their advantage soon afterwards with a carbon copy of their first score.

Another delicate chip by Coleman was this time seized upon by inside centre Samuel Winter, who touched down and saw Banks add the extras to ensure that, almost in the blink of an eye, his side had gone 10 points ahead.

There was no let up from the second-placed side as the half wore on, and they soon made the most of a sustained spell of pressure to add their third try.

After five minutes camped in the Titans 22, Hankin found space on the left to run in his second, which he promptly turned into a hat-trick soon after down the same side of the field to seal his side’s bonus point.

The visitors put the icing on the cake just before full-time when replacement Seb Brownhill powered over after another incisive attack.

Taunton battled hard throughout and more than held their own in a tight first period, but the quality of the visiting outfit shone through after the break to leave Taunton with a mountain to climb if they are to earn promotion.

Taunton Titans: Kingdom, Popham, Mason, Tichias, Fraser, East, Webb; Rhodes, Spurdle, Roofe, Persey, Lonsdale, Frost, Cakalutukali, Prior

Replacements: Chase, Caulfield, Lugg, Barbison, Fiel