This was a similar game to the same fixture last season with defences at a minimum but it was the Titans that came out on top this time thanks, once again, to the boot of Gary Kingdom.
The rain was non stop which made the conditions difficult and the ball greasy which often meant that neither team could keep the ball for long periods but long enough to score 6 tries apiece.
It was the Titans that made a dream start when Ollie Rice slid over the line in the opening minute. From the kick off Taunton couldn’t control the ball and the hosts capitalised and went over for their own try scored by Joshua Amadi after some pressure on the visitors line. With both conversions successful Kingdom kicked the Titans into the lead once more with a penalty before once again allowing the Wild Geese through for a try, this one from prop Brandon Baker from a driving maul.
Like a gentleman’s agreement had been signed before the kick off it was the Titans turn to score next when Sam Brown went over for a try near the posts. Kingdom converted once again to make the score 15 – 17 and all of this took place within the first 15 minutes of the game.
Things slowed down but as per the agreement it was the Geese who went in next for a converted try with Baker getting a carbon copy of his first and Reuben Knight kicking the extras. Next to score of course were the Titans with back rower Jarrard Hayler dotting down and Kingdom converting. Once again London Irish capitalised on the and winger George Owen scored and Knight converted. This brought up London Irish's first league points of the season with a try bonus but there was still time for the lead to change once more when on the stroke of half time the Titans pack drove the home side over from a scrum to allow Ben Oliphant-Thompson to control the ball and score. Kingdom once again converted to make the halftime score 26 – 31.
During the half time team talk it must have been decided to keep to the agreement for the second half as it was the hosts that scored first with Amadi claiming a kick ahead and beating the defenders to score. This tied the scores at 31 – 31 and it was a great run from flanker Ratu Vakalutukali who burst through from the Irish 10 meter line and race in to score. Kingdom converted once again.
The Titans then went off script and scored next when Kingdom kicked another penalty before normal service resumed and Wild Geese went in for their 6th try and Owen’s second. The try was out wide so the conversion was missed and Taunton increased their lead when Brown went over for his second and make it a 10 point lead with 15 minutes to go.
It was at this time the Titans decided to tighten things up and started to keep the home side pinned back when they could and if they did venture into the Taunton half the more energetic defence from the visitors forced the mistakes to clear their lines and hold on to claim the 5 points on the road and deny London Irish a deserved 2nd bonus point.
From a neutral this was an exciting, end to end game that was full of entertainment with 12 tries and the lead changing 8 times but for the Taunton coaches it will be a very high error count that they will be reviewing and seeing if it is was the conditions that caused the issue or was it something more concerning. There is one thing the coaches will know and that is if they make the same mistakes in the coming weeks any aspirations at being near the top of the table come the end of the year will once again disappear, a bit like the defences today.
London Irish Wild Geese
Tries: Amadi 6,45, Baker 11, 24, Owen 32, 57
Conversion: Knight 7, 25, 33
Tries: Rice 1,Brown 14, 64, Hayler 28, Oliphant-Thompson 40, Vakalutukali 48,
Conversion: Kingdom 2, 15, 29, 44, 49
Penalties:Kingdom 9, 55,
Referee: Mr Jack Sutton
Half Time 26 - 31
London Irish Wild Geese; Turner,Amadi, Henry, Cunningham, Owen, Knight, U’Chong, Henshaw, Townsend (Frampton72), Baker (Hay 40), Collingridge, Haggett, Browne (Hobbins 45), Keheli (Day23), Kirby
Taunton Titans; Kingdom, Sixton, Rice, Mason (Capt), Struminski, Brown(Toomey 70), Webb, Dalton (Williams 55), Francis, Haines (Petch 62), Teague(persey 52), Harvey, Vakalutukali, Hayler, Oliphant-Thompson (Fleming 62)