National 2 South

Taunton Titans 31, London Irish Wild Geese 24

TAUNTON Titans survived a flurry of second half cards, including a sending off, to see out a victory over London Irish Wild Geese that was a lot closer than it perhaps should have been.

The hosts took a 28-5 lead into half-time but indiscipline in the second half gave the Geese fresh hope, only for the visitors to fall short in a scrappy affair.

Titans head coach Tony Yapp was keen for his side to avenge the 45-38 defeat in the reverse fixture but the opening stages were cagey, with both sides struggling to get a grip on the ball in sticky conditions.

Taunton's first visit into the opposition 22 led to the first try, as Jack Claydon came in off his flank to start a move which fellow winger Aron Struminski finished in the right hand corner.

Gary Kingdom added the extras and was soon rewarded for sending a kickable penalty to the corner rather than through the posts as the forwards drove their way over from the resultant maul, with Jamie Fleming touching down - Kingdom again slotted the conversion.

The visitors had been sluggish in the early stages but took advantage of a piece of sloppy Titans play to get on the scoreboard, as the ball was knocked on inside the hosts' 22 and Geese worked it out to Reon Joseph, who went over on the left hand side.

Taunton came back strongly and picked up their next try after a sustained spell of pressure, with hooker Chris Francis bundling over from close range.

Kingdom again added the conversion, as he did with the final action of the half after Connor Baker powered over on his farewell appearance before he heads to New Zealand with teammates Isaac Dalton and Nick Mason.

That score ensured Taunton had the bonus point wrapped up before half-time, but the start of the second half mirrored that of the first with neither side able to get going.

Geese were next on the scoreboard after being awarded a penalty try following a catch and drive which the referee felt was being illegally disrupted by Lewis Webb, who was sin binned.

The Titans were then down to 13 men as Sam Prior was given his marching orders following an altercation at the breakdown, with an alleged punch spotted by the touch judge and brought to the attention of the referee.

Geese made their numerical advantage count straight away with another score, though the routine conversion was missed, and Kingdom contnued his exemplary afternoon with the boot by slotting a penalty to give Taunton breathing space at 31-17.

The visitors were right back in it soon afterwards when they were awarded a second penalty try in similar circumstances to their first - this time Francis was sent to the bin.

By this point Webb was back on, but Taunton still had to see out the final 10 minutes two men light and with just a seven-point advantage.

They never came under any pressure, however, as the closing stages were a stop-start affair punctuated by delays at the scrum inside the Geese half.

Next up for the Titans is a trip to Henley Hawks next Sunday (March 18), while on the adjacent pitch Taunton Colts advanced in the National Under-18 Cup with a 21-5 win over Penzance.

Taunton Titans: Connor Baker, Chris Francis, Isaac Dalton, Stuart Persey, Andy England, Brett Harvey, James Felming, Ben Oliphant-Thompson, Lewis Webb, Toby East, Jack Claydon, Ollie Carter, Nick Mason, Aron Struminski, Gary Kingdom.

Replacements: Andy Hamilton, Sam Prior, David Edwards, Thomas Hooper, Freddie Fraser.