National 2 South

Taunton Titans 41, Broadstreet 21

TAUNTON Titans got their 2017/18 National 2 South campaign off to a winning start with a bonus-point victory over newly-promoted Broadstreet at Hyde Park.

Aron Struminski's brace got the hosts up and running and four second half scores saw them run out comfortable winners in the end, though the visitors put up a good fight and went ahead themselves at the start of the second period before fading as the game wore on.

On a warm afternoon, the hosts drew first blood on six minutes when Gary Kingdom slotted over a penalty for a 3-0 lead which didn't last long.

Broadstreet, who won National 3 Midlands last season, hit back almost immediately with a flowing move which ended with winger Stanley Mayne touching down as Titans' appeals for a forward pass fell on deaf ears.

The try was converted by Lee Chapman, and a period of frustration followed for the hosts as they couldn't turn their dominance of territory into points.

It took the twinkle toes of winger Aron Struminski to get the hosts moving, as he skipped sideways across the pitch and ignored the calls of those outside him before straigthening up to go over for a fine individual try, though Kingdom screwed the conversion wide.

Fellow winger Ollie Rice - making his debut for the Titans having signed from Exmouth in the summer - could have added his name to the scoresheet but spilled forwards when well placed as Taunton looked to stretch their lead.

Struminski made no such mistake, doubling his tally when he dotted over from close range for a score that was a lot simpler than his first effort - Kingdom slotted the conversion to establish an eight-point advantage.

The lead was back down to just a solitary point by the interval, however, as Mayne showed he was not to be outdone in the battle between the two wingers and showed an electric turn of pace to score his second try of the game in the last phase of the first half.

Chapman converted to leave his side 15-14 in arrears at the break, and the fly-half put his side in front early in the second half when he burst through two attempted tackles to touch down under the posts.

Taunton dropped vital points in winnable home games last year and may have been concerned that history was about to repeat itself, but the hosts took advantage of visiting hooker Sam Harcourt being sin-binned for a tip tackle and never looked back thereafter.

Toby East restored parity for his side, stepping in off his right foot to go over under the posts with Kingdom adding the extras, and replacement Brett Harvey sealed the bonus point by bundling over from close range after the ball was moved through the hands.

With an eight-point cushion established for the second time in the match, Taunton could afford to express themselves and added to the lead late on with scores from Kingdom, who touched down in the corner, and Rice, who collected a deserved debut try with a simple finish.

Taunton may have taken a while to get into their stride - understandable on the opening weekend - but, as the match progressed, the Titans illustrated their cutting edge going forward and will be content with their start to the campaign.

Taunton Titans: Gary Kingdom, Aron Struminski, Freddie Fraser, Tom Popham, Ollie Rice, Toby East, Conor Littlewood; Connor Baker, Christopher Francis, Isaac Dalton, Stuart Persey, Barrie-John Chapman, Ratu Vakalutukali, Charles Walker-Blair, James Fleming.

Replacements: Andrew Hamilton, Charles Tribble, Brett Harvey, Daniel Frost, Lewis Webb.


SPEAKING after the match, Titans head coach Tony Yapp said: "We are pretty pleased - the first game is always difficult as it is hard to know where you're at.

"Broadstreet were new to us and we didn't really know what to expect, but the fact we've got our points towards the end shows we got things right and we are really pleased to score six tries.

"I felt if we could hold on to the ball and go through phases we should pull away, and that proved to be the case.

"Our bench had a massive impact and brought a lot of energy to the side.

"There are a couple of concerns - they probably only had three or four opportunities to score and did so three times, whereas we created a lot more chances and missed out on a few.

"We were up in terms of possession and territory and there are a few things to tidy up, but as a first game it's always nice to get up and running with five points.

"We had a lot of new boys in today and Connor Baker got man of the match - closely followed by Stuart Persey, who was excellent today.

"It is always going to take time for players to bed in, but once they settle we'll see even more from them.

"Everyone has got through today in one piece and we've got players like Sam Prior and Ben Olliphant-Thompson to come back, while Nick Mason isn't far away from a return either.

"If you are going to do well you need those selection headaches, as if selection is easy then it means there is not a lot of pressure on those who are in the side - you need that pressure if you are going to be successful."