A LAST-GASP penalty by Gary Kingdom ensured Taunton Titans got back to winning ways on a day of high drama at Hyde Park that also saw the game held up for over an hour due to a serious injury to a Barnstaple player, writes Paul Martin.

Two ambulances arrived 50 minutes into the National Two South encounter to treat Barum number eight Ben Hilton, but those that stayed to watch the match to its conclusion were treated to a dramatic finale as the hosts claimed the spoils with the last kick of the game.

The match had started with a bang, as Taunton – desperate to make a strong start after an abject first half in the defeat at Worthing last weekend – took the lead after just five minutes.

A sustained period of early pressure ended in Nick Mason powering over in the left corner and, though the conversion was missed by Kingdom, the hosts had the early lead they craved.

Barnstaple, themselves needing points in their battle against the drop, came straight back into it and enjoyed a sustained spell of possession inside home territory.

When Titans fly-half Toby East was sin-binned the visitors sensed an opportunity, and soon afterwards giant flanker Matthew Gohl bundled over from close range to level the scores.

A fine conversion from Jordan Petheridge pushed the hosts into the lead, but it was not to last long as Taunton came roaring back.

It was a mess of Barnstaple’s own making, as they failed to claim the restart and Titans blindside Conor Harbison pounced to surge forward.

When his progress was held up, the ball was switched to the right hand side where captain Mason was again on hand again to finish off for a try which this time was converted by Kingdom.

The rest of the opening period was dominated by the boot, as both sides earned numerous penalties but failed to make the most of promising lineout opportunities.

An excellent offload by East nearly set Mason away for his hat-trick in the half’s final phase, but he was tackled and the hosts went in with a five-point advantage.

Taunton came flying out the blocks in the second period and stretched their lead courtesy of a fine individual effort by East, who sprinted away down the left to dot down in the corner.

A conversion from the touchline by Kingdom made the score 19-7, which was how it stayed until the injury that threatened to end the game.

Hilton stayed down after an incident on the far side and the match was held up for over an hour as ambulances arrived and paramedics treated the player, whose back injury was causing him serious discomfort.



Both sides left the field and there was doubt as to whether the match would resume, but the referee consulted with both coaches and, after a stoppage of an hour and a quarter, the game got back underway with a Barnstaple scrum on the 22.

The visitors were by far the quicker of the two sides to settle back into the match and reduced the deficit when scrum-half James Bath dived over from close range after his side had pounded away at the Titans line for several phases.

Sensing the comeback was on, Barum grew in confidence and looked the more likely of the two teams to score next, which they duly did when inside centre Ryan Carter raced in from 20 metres out.

Petheridge’s conversion gave the visitors a 21-19 lead and they may have thought they had done enough for a vital win, but there was one final twist in the closing stages.

In trying to close out the game through the forwards, Barnstaple conceded a penalty at the breakdown which gave Taunton the chance to win the match with a penalty just in front of the 10m line.

Kingdom stepped up confidently and sent the ball between the posts to ensure his side avoided a third straight defeat after so nearly throwing the game away following the lengthy delay.

Taunton Titans: Kingdom, Massy-Birch, Mason, Popham, Fraser, East, Webb; Chase, Gatford, Claydon, Lonsdale, Lugg, Harbison, Frost, Gibbs.