National 2 South
Taunton Titans 48, Esher 10

TAUNTON Titans sit three points clear at the top of the National 2 South standings, after an emphatic win in their rearranged game with Esher, writes Dick Macey.

Prior to last Saturday’s game at the Towergate Stadium, there was a big question mark over whether any rugby would be permitted by the governing body in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Then the seemingly ever-present possibility of the constant downpours causing fixtures to be postponed presented a further dilemma, so the fact that both the RFU and the weather relented to allow play was a huge relief,

The Titans knew that, should they emerge victors on Saturday, they would rise to the top of the table and would be a great stride closer to their declared ambition of gaining promotion to National 1.

Taunton have never been better placed in their near-150 year history to move up into the seriously high-profile national rugby spotlight, so you might have expected a little nervous tension in the air, not so much from the players but from the dedicated Taunton faithful.

Esher had, after all, won the reverse fixture, 10-8, in difficult conditions earlier in the season.

The Towergate Stadium pitch, although a little on the “heavy” side, had a great covering of grass and, when the weather has permitted, has presented a truly excellent surface - Saturday’s was no exception, suiting the Titans' style of running rugby just perfectly.

They displayed their intent from the very first whistle, taking the game to their opponents, and were soon rewarded when some smooth inter-passing put scrum-half Pierre Thomson over for a try, converted by Gary Kingdom.

Further scores came at regular intervals as the Titans pack asserted themselves.

Before half-time they had added two more tries, through prop Isaac Dalton and hooker Alex Spurdle, one converted by Kingdom, and with Esher only able to claim an unconverted score, the half closed out with the home side 19-5 ahead.

The second session became an altogether one-sided affair, with the Titans pack dominating the set-piece, driving Esher back time and again, and the backs cutting huge swathes through the visitors' defence.

The wind at their backs was forever pushing them forward onto a scrambling Esher side fast running out of puff despite having claimed an early second-half try.

Tries for the Titans were scored by Nick Mason, squeezing one over in the corner, two more by Spurdle, demonstrating the forwards' dominance, a second by Thomson after some slick inter-passing through the backs, and Sam Prior touching down to round off a mighty Titans shove to get the pack over the line.

Kingdom was able to convert two of those tries, leaving the Titans comfortable 48-10 winners.

There is now a great cloud of uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the league programme, with many forecasting an end to the season’s competitions, so all eyes will be focused on the game’s administrators and their deliberations.

What is certain is that, whatever their conclusions, Taunton find themselves in the best possible place, with promotion beckoning, and that will be a huge boost for the town, for the community of West Country rugby and, of course, a mighty boost for Taunton Rugby Football Club.