National 2 South

Taunton Titans 35, Redruth 33

ANDY England’s late try spared Taunton’s blushes as the Titans recovered from a second half collapse to win a Christmas cracker against old foes Redruth at Hyde Park.

The Titans led 30-12 early in the second period but three tries in 15 minutes edged the Cornish side ahead in a dramatic finale, only for substitute England’s score to send most of the bumper festive crowd of 720 home happy.

AS IT HAPPENED: Titans edge past Redruth

After a scrappy start to the clash between two Westcountry rivals, Taunton drew first blood on seven minutes when flanker Jarrard Hayler found a great line from Lewis Webb’s pass and charged over.

Gary Kingdom added the extras and the same player slotted a penalty to stretch the lead to 10-0, but that was the last Taunton saw of the Redruth half for the next 10 minutes as the visitors enjoyed a spell of pressure.

They were not able to fully capitalise, however, sending three kickable penalties to the corner in search of a try which belatedly arrived when winger Brad Jones went over on the left hand side.

The score went unconverted and Redruth were soon a man down when full-back Tom Notman was sin binned for a high tackle on Jacob Nash in front of the posts – Notman’s opposite number Kingdom kicked the penalty, which could arguably have been a penalty try instead.

Taunton made their man advantage count with two fine tries before half-time, Ratu Vakalutukali and Nash finishing off incisive team moves to open up a 25-5 lead at the interval.

The visitors reduced the deficit early in the second half when a catch and drive took the forwards over, but Nick Mason soon touched down at the other end to secure Taunton’s bonus point.

Kingdom missed the simple conversion and Redruth refused to throw the towel in, turning the game on its head in a blistering spell. Another try from a rolling maul was followed by number eight Ben Fox sprinting over in the corner – both were converted by Ashley Hoskings to cut Taunton’s lead to 30-26 and set nerves jangling.

The momentum was firmly with Redruth and there was a sense of inevitability about the try which took them in front for the first time in the afternoon.

Taunton’s defence were opened up and flanker Sam Stevens strolled over under the posts – Hoskings converted to open up a three-point lead, much to the delight of Redruth’s sizable travelling contingent.

From being completely in control, the Titans were suddenly chasing the game and were soon camped in the Redruth 22 as they sought to restore their advantage.

They had several knocks at the door before England forced his way over from close range to make it 35-33 - Kingdom’s conversion drifted wide to leave Redruth with a glimmer of hope, but the Titans held on to secure another vital five points which keeps them in the promotion picture going into 2019.

Taunton return to action with a short trip to Clifton on January 5.

Taunton Titans: Sonny Haines, Sam Williams, Alfie Petch; Cory Teague, Dan Ogdden; Ratu Vakalutukali, Jarrad Hayler, Ben Oliphant-Thompson; Jacob Nash, Lewis Webb; Freddie Fraser, Nick Mason; Oscar Kolowski, Aron Struminski, Gary Kingdom

Subs: Chris Francis, Isaac Dalton, Andy England, Sam Prior, Sam Brown