National 2 South

Taunton Titans 33, Redingensians Rams 32

TAUNTON Titans wrapped up fourth spot in National 2 South after edging past Redingensians Rams in their final league match of the season at Hyde Park.

The home side looked as if they may have thrown the match away after a sloppy ending to the first half, but a stirring comeback after the interval ensured they ended their campaign with a bonus-point victory in front of a good crowd.

The hosts made the perfect start, going ahead inside three minutes after Freddie Fraser - who picked up the player of the season award after the match - found a perfect line to take a Ted Landray pass and cut through the visiting midfield on his way to an early score.

Gary Kingdom added the extras and, though Redingensians replied with a Jacob Atkins penalty, Taunton went further ahead when Conor Harbison powered over from a catch and drive in the left hand corner.

At this point it looked as if the Taunton faithful may have been able to enjoy a stress-free closing fixture but, as has so often been the case this season, the Titans made life difficult for themselves and let the visitors back into the game.

The hosts survived one close shave when Harbison made a try-saving tackle on winger Olly Foxley as he strode clear after a fine chip forward, and the Rams then deservedly closed the gap when flanker Tom Vooght dived over from close range after 26 minutes.

An Atkins penalty put the visitors in front for the first time in the match, and they stretched their lead in the final phase of the first period when Conor Corrigan finished off a flowing move down the left flank to sprint clear and touch down under the posts.

That try meant Taunton had gone from 12-3 up to 20-12 down as they trudged off at the interval, but they turned the match on its head with a quickfire double early in the second half.

Arron Gibbs was the first to go over, then Fraser added his second of the match after finishing off a fantastic move.

Nick Mason began the attack, as the outside centre gained good ground before passing to Olly Massy-Birch, who in turn continued the momentum and timed his pass inside perfectly to set Fraser in the clear as Taunton overturned the half-time deficit in a matter of minutes.

Fraser’s try also secured the four-try bonus point, and Sam Prior added a fifth soon afterwards when the powerful number eight, playing as a winger for the day, bulldozed over on the left hand side.

As ever, Taunton refused to do it the easy way and let their opponents back into the match when replacement Craig Nightingale touched down with 20 minutes still to play, but crucially Atkins’ conversion attempt drifted wide to ensure the hosts remained eight points ahead.

That advantage became all the more important when, with the final play of the match, Redingensians forced their way over from a catch and drive at the lineout for a score which was converted to reduce the winning margin to just a single point.

The victory capped a positive campaign for the Titans and was a particularly fitting end for loyal servants Jon Gatford and Alec Chase, who each played their final match in the front row after many years of service.

Taunton will ultimately be left reflecting on points dropped against inferior opposition over the course of the season, but they can be more than satisfied with a top four finish.