Taunton 35-26 Darlington Mowden Park

ON a dull and wet afternoon tremendous credit must be given to the ground staff who had prepared a magnificent playing surface after a week of snow and rain allowing a very hard fought and entertaining game to be played.

For the first seventeen minutes both teams played attacking rugby with Darlington Mowden Park (DMP) having a slight advantage.

The ball had been kept alive for the whole of this period before the coming of the first scrum. 

DMP won the ball and attacked from the scrum and Taunton gave away a penalty, Matthew Minogue the DMP outside-half kicked the points to give them a three-point lead. 

There were some really big hits coming in from the Taunton defence and from one such hit Charlie Wright was able to pounce on the ball and from the DMP 10 metre line completely outpace the defence to score under the post for the try which George Worboys converted to give Taunton a seven-point to three lead. 

Taunton then dominated possession although not always territory.  DMP with ball in hand looked dangerous and made several breaks only to be thwarted by some excellent tackles especially by Nick Mason who on three occasions saved good scoring chances from DMP. 

Both teams tried to recycle ball quickly and play open rugby and there were only four scrums in the whole of the first half.  It was on the stroke of half-time that Taunton set up a maul on the DMP line and, with one of his trademark tries, Isaac Dalton scored.  The conversion was missed and Taunton took in at the break a 12-points to 3 lead.

DMP came out with a certain authority in the second half and after just 4 minutes their centre Ben Frankland went in for the try which was converted and just 5 minutes later DMP went in for their second try of the afternoon again which was converted to give them the lead. 

Taunton started to settle and put together phases of play denying DMP possession and the lead only lasted for two minutes before Alex Rodd went in for the third of Taunton’s tries. 

The conversion was missed but the scores were level. Taunton gave away a penalty which allowed Minogue to restore DMP’s lead but then we saw the drive and pace of Toots to pick up and out pace the DMP defence for a try which restored the lead to Taunton by just two points and give Taunton a try bonus point.

We then perhaps saw the tackle of the match where Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Manny) took out his man head on which dislodged the ball and allowed Harry Strong to hack through control the ball and score a try which George Worboys was able to convert. 

This gave Taunton a nine-point cushion but no time to relax.  The team started to control the game but gave away a penalty with just 7 minutes left on the clock. 

Minogue converted and now just a six-point lead.  5 minutes left DMP give away a penalty George Worboys converts restoring those nine-points. 

3 minutes left Taunton give away a penalty Minogue converts taking his tally for the afternoon to 16 points and the possibility of a losing bonus point. 

With the whistle imminent DMP give away a penalty and George Worboys converts so back to that nine-point lead and the final whistle.

This was an intense game which showed skill, enthusiasm, commitment, and determination from all of the players.