National 2 South
Taunton Titans 60, Guernsey 14

THERE was nothing festive about the welcome extended to Guernsey on their first visit to Taunton last Saturday afternoon, writes Dick Macey.

Aside from the dreary weather, with the rain coming in sideways and the wind having a nasty Arctic feel about it, the quality of the rugby served up by the Titans blew away the tentative Channel Island side, with the home side running out 60-14 victors.

The Guernsey team have struggled to make their mark at the higher level having won promotion to National League 2 South this season, and whereas Taunton have on occasion been slow to take advantage of lower sides’ deficiencies, on this occasion they were devastating in their demolition of weaker opponents.

They could not have begun more briskly, and within two minutes they were on the scoreboard with a try by Nick Mason, who burst through a wobbly defence, with Sam Brown adding the conversion.

This set the tone for what proved to be a relentless torrent of Titans pressure, against which the visitors struggled to compete all afternoon.

With a further try from Mason and others by Jacob Nash, Aron Struminski, Ratu Vakalutikali and Corry Teague, the Islanders could only counter with a solitary converted try to turn around at half time down 34-7.

To further compound their difficulties, they had to face the bitter wind and driving rain throughout the second session, with the Titans in no mood to slow down.

Four more tries were added through Nash, Struminski and two by Brown, who converted five of the 10 and who looked comfortable at full-back, with the familiar face of Gary Kingdom on the bench.

There was a determination evident in this ruthless performance by the Titans; apart from brushing aside lesser opponents, the forwards were a rampaging unit who coped well in all facets of their game – strong in the scrummage, comfortingly capable in the lineout, a driving force in the rolling maul and impressively supportive of each other from start to finish.

The locks, Teague and man of the match Dan Ogden, were everywhere, and the engine room was the back row of Vakalutukali, as rampaging and as strong as ever, with Jarrard Hayler and Julian Salvi displaying a massive presence to drive it all on.

It was mouth-wateringly effective, and the result keeps Taunton fourth in the table, within touching distance of Canterbury and Henley Hawks.

This coming Saturday (ko 3pm) the Titans are once more at Hyde Park, and this time they entertain their long-term West Country rivals, Redruth, in what is an exciting prospect for the dedicated Taunton faithful.

After their narrow defeat to the Cornishmen down at Hell Fire Corner at the start of the season (29-27), the Titans will be looking to turn that result around, especially if they can bring their impressive recent form to the party.