EDF Energy Intermediate Cup: Taunton 29, Barnstaple 6.

THIS was a red-blooded cup tie, full of big hits, but Taunton had the edge in the areas that mattered.

The visitors dominated the first ten minutes of each half but failed to turn that pressure into points - Taunton's superb defence kept them out and then they showed what they had in store for Barnstaple.

Their mastery at scrum-time produced a try in each half and, apart from the link between nine and ten, which left a lot to be desired, they were in charge elsewhere.

The first score followed the squandering of an overlap and a certain try. Barum's scrum for the knock-on was demolished and number eight Tex Raratuba barged over from the resultant set piece.

Jon Martin missed the kick and hit a post with a penalty attempt but was on target with the conversion when Boschie Muller benefited from a powerful line-out drive.

Barnstaple's Mark Galliford put them on the scoreboard with a penalty before the interval and repeated the dose ten minutes into the second half.

Taunton were now running the show and, on the hour, Martin's sleight of hand and a dummy runner put David Webber into the corner.

The visitors again laid siege to Taunton's line with pick and drives galore and, in despair, frustrated by Taunton's brick wall, Ian Gear's drop goal attempt fell short.

Webber then capitalised on a Galliford knock-on to sprint unchallenged to the left corner for his second try, followed by Raratuba's second, a replica of his first half score.

Etienne van den Brink's conversion put Taunton into the second round.

The match was sponsored by Taunton Rugby's junior section which is thriving at all age groups and the team was led out by the Taunton Rascals, the U-6s, the future.

Taunton Rugby has extended its horizons this season with many new players in the 1st XV and the results speak volumes. They are also fully aware that local talent needs to be nurtured at all ages and particularly at second string level.