National 2 South
Taunton Titans 52, Barnstaple 3

TAUNTON Titans won their home derby against Barnstaple with surprising ease, as despite putting in an imperfect performance they had far too much for the lacklustre visitors.

The hosts had already passed up a couple of try-scoring opportunities - and butchered a couple of lineouts - when they switched the play from right to left and Chris Francis dived over in the corner with just over 10 minutes played.

The away side responded with a penalty from Jake Murphy, but amazingly - given that both teams had won their previous two matches - that was the last time that Barnstaple troubled the scoreboard.

Gary Kingdom was heavily involved in the Titans' play, and he arced through the defence to score his team's second try, before Rob Allen burst through for the third.

And the bonus point was secured within 25 minutes, as Aron Struminski found a gap to finish off another Titans move - the home side now leading 26-3.

With Danny Southworth in the sin bin, Struminski took advantage to score on the right, bringing the half-time score to 34-3.

The heavens opened ahead of the second period, but there was no let-up from the Titans, and a couple of Kingdom penalties stretched their lead.

A superb drive from the forwards set up Sam Prior to dive over, and Dan Frost - who scored a hat-trick the week before - finished it off, following another show of strength from the home pack.

What should have been a real test for the hosts, and could have been a classic, was hugely one-sided - but it's the Titans who move onto three wins from three ahead of next Saturday's trip to Wimbledon.


HEAD coach Tony Yapp said: "Our build-up in the week was looking at Barnstaple's great start, and any team that beat Redruth would be a strong side.

"We knew what to expect, as we struggled against them last year, so we knew they'd be well organised and really up for the game.

"But we focused on what we could do, look after the ball and be patient.

"[I was most pleased with] the fact they only scored three points.

"I'm over the moon that we scored 50, but them only scoring three, and not really putting us under too much pressure defensively.

"So from an attacking point of view, we're thrilled; from a defensive point of view, probably even more pleased, to concede three points in what was billed as a top-of-the-table clash.

"Strummers [Aron Struminski] is on fire at the moment - he doesn't touch the ball too many times, but when he does he tends to score!

"That's six from three games for him now.

"It's pleasing to see things we've worked on over the week really come to fruition - we were a little bit straighter in our midfield, creating more space for the guys out wide and allowed us to score.

"It's probably a bit of a shame the heavens opened at half time, but that said we played the game in the right areas, and only a few handling errors in the wet conditions stopped us scoring a few more."

He added: "For me it's about consistency, so every week we're looking to build, and there are little things we need to tweak over the week.

"We'll have a good look at the video before we make too many decisions, but overall we're really pleased, it's a step up from last week, and if we want to keep progressing we need to be that bit better next week.

"Our squad is slightly stronger than last year; we have a few new guys who have come in and bought into what we're trying to do.

"We've got a little bit more depth - we've got people like Nick Mason to come back into the side, and he's down with the Warriors, playing his first game back after injury.

"At the moment the boys are playing well, and the good thing is that if you don't play well there's someone there to take your spot, and because of that it's pushing up the standard of play and the standard in training.

"At the moment we're trying to make the most out of having everyone pretty fit; at some stage we're going to be riddled with injuries, and [we'll see] how we deal with that, but until then we'll keep pushing on and looking to improve."