National 2 South

Canterbury 26, Taunton Titans 24

TAUNTON Titans came within a whisker of winning at promotion rivals Canterbury but saw a last-gasp penalty slide wide in a thrilling contest in Kent.

The match pitted second against third, the Titans having leapfrogged their opponents as a result of six wins on the bounce, but the hosts came out with a point to prove.

Two early tries, one of which was converted, put Canterbury 12-0 to the good as the Titans were slow out the blocks.

The Titans then put together a spell of pressure but could not make it pay with any points, and they were 19-0 down at the break after Sam Rogers went over for a converted try.

Now playing down the slope, Taunton came out determined and set about reducing the arrears when Chris Francis powered over for a try which Gary Kingdom converted.

Canterbury responded by earning a penalty which was put wide, but they were not to be denied shortly afterwards when Dan Smart went over for the home side's bonus point score - the extras were kicked for a 26-7 lead.

Taunton were not done, however, and a catch and drive from five metres out saw Francis touch down for his second, which went unconverted.

Alfie Petch's unconverted try then made the score 26-17, and Taunton trailed by just two when Alex Spurdle went over late on and Kingdom slotted the extras.

It was all set up for a grandstand finale and Kingdom had the chance to win it for the Titans with a penalty in the last play of the match, but the full-back's effort slipped agonisingly wide.

Taunton return on their long journey home with two points, one for scoring four tries and the other for losing by less than seven, an outcome they will not be too disheartened with in the grand scheme of things - though they will rue a missed opportunity to have put daylight between themselves and their opponents.

Next Saturday, Taunton welcome London Irish Wild Geese to Hyde Park.

Taunton Titans: 1 Sonny Haines, 2 Chris Francis, 3 Isaac Dalton, 4 Milo Reynolds, 5 Dan Ogden, 6 Charlie Williams, 7 Ratu Vakalutukali, 8 Ben Oliphant-Thompson, 9 Jacob Nash, 10 Lewis Webb (Capt), 11 Ollie Rice, 12 Freddie Fraser, 13 Nick Mason, 14 Aron Struminski, 15 Gary Kingdom. Replacements: 16 Alex Spurdle, 17 Alfie Petch, 18 Sam Prior, 19 Max Woodward, 20 Toby East