National 2 South
Esher 10, Taunton Titans 8

WATCHING Taunton Titans struggle to overcome the conundrum of horrendous weather and an enthusiastic Esher side was equally if not more painful than having watched England struggle against a rampant Springboks in the World Cup final earlier in the day, writes Dick Macey.

The hosts' 10-8 victory, combined with wins for Tonbridge Juddians and Henley Hawks, knocked the Titans off the top of the table and into third spot.

Torrential rain and a strong “down the pitch” wind, which persisted throughout the majority of the afternoon, made handling the ball a constant lottery.

Conditions underfoot meant that kick and rush almost became a refined art, as both sides wrestled to find some supremacy.

Surrey side Esher took a lead in the third minute with Sam Druce's penalty kick from halfway line (with the wind behind them), and that was the only score in the first session.

Error after error hampered the efforts of both teams, not helped by some quirky decisions from the officials, meaning that the experience of watching became almost painful in the extreme.

Those hardy members of the Taunton faithful who had travelled might have hoped that, with the elements now behind them, the Titans might have been able to make some capital, but Esher’s relentless determination made any constructive play impossible.

To emphasise that determination they seized a moment in broken play to kick the ball long and low, and Lennox Anwanyu won the footrace for the touchdown under the posts – Druce's conversion making it 10-0.

From that moment on it was all Titans as much as the conditions would allow, but that old Taunton mindset of spurning goal-kicking opportunities and going for the corner meant two golden chances went begging before one was slotted over by Gary Kingdom.

So the visitors marauded up and down the Esher line with endless penalties being awarded but not a disciplinary card in sight until, eventually, “Sniffer” (leading try scorer, prop Isaac Dalton) squeezed over.

This observer thought that with Kingdom’s simple kick to come, at least the Titans would come away with a draw.

Not so! The Esher players were allowed to rush at the kicker screaming like a hoard of banshees and the kick went wide.

We waited for the kick to be ordered to be taken again, but instead the final whistle was blown to round off a thoroughly frustrating afternoon for the Taunton boys.

Taunton Titans: Connor Baker, George Gosling, Isaac Dalton, Barrie-John Chapman, Stuart Persey, Ben Oliphant-Thompson, Brett Harvey, Dan Lee (c), James Tait, Lewis Webb, Oscar Kolowski, Nick Mason, Thomas Wyatt, Jack Arnott, Gary Kingdom. Replacements: Chris Francis, Gary Carpenter, Dan Ogden, Gabe Mead, Greg Kitson.

This coming Saturday (ko 3pm), Taunton return to the Towergate Stadium to face Barnes, who travel down from South West London.

You can be assured that the Titans will be utterly committed to restoring some sensibility to their scoreline with a hatful of tries.

There will be a carvery lunch available prior to the game, hosted by the Friends of the club, and immediately before the game there will be a short service of remembrance to mark Taunton RFC’s acknowledgement to the fallen.