National 2 South

Clifton 42, Taunton Titans 48

TAUNTON Titans began 2019 by holding on for victory in an exhilarating derby at Clifton.

Taunton led 33-7 in the first half but the hosts rallied to within three points in the second, but the visitors held on to keep within reach of the top two.

The Titans flew out the traps and led 21-0 inside 20 minutes, Jarrard Hayler's opening score backed up by a brace from Nick Mason - each converted by Sam Brown.

Will Pomphrey's converted try got the hosts on the board but Brown and Ollie Rice went over to stretch Taunton's lead to 33-7, which was reduced by seven before the break as Pomphrey got his second.

Clifton scored twice early in the second half to secure a bonus point of their own before Freddie Fraser touched down to open up some breathing space for the Titans, but it didn't last long.

Pomphrey's hat-trick score was converted to leave Taunton's lead hanging by a thread at 38-35 and the next try would prove pivotal.

It was the visitors who got it, Hayler touching down under the posts, but even then the game was not done and Clifton hit back to again leave Taunton's advantage at just three.

Brown's late penalty stretched the lead to six and that was how it stayed until the end of a breathless encounter.

Though the Titans will be pleased with the result which keeps them fourth, there may be concerns at how, for the second match in succession, a comfortable advantage has so nearly turned into a defeat.

Next Saturday sees struggling Birmingham & Solihull visit Hyde Park (3pm).