With the Taunton Titans in good spirits and excited for a weekend away in Guernsey, some may have worried that they were not mentally prepared for the challenge of a national league game later that day.
After a short 25 minute flight from Exeter airport, the team landed at 3:15 and had a quick turn around to check in to the hotel and get to the Guernsey Rugby Club at Foote Lane for a late 5:30pm kick off.
The effects of an earlier spring than mainland Britain was apparent, it was a superb day with the sun shining and only blue sky in sight on the channel island. The pitch looked fast to the delight of some.
The early exchanges were tight, seeing both teams give away a number of penalties but neither team could really take full advantage. Lewis Webb was looking to play with tempo and taking quick taps. Guernsey were the first to trouble the scoreboard when a driving maul was pushed over making the score 5-0. Guernseys supporters were vocal and showed a great amount of support for their team all day. This was an early warning sign for Taunton.
Taunton responded well with a try of their own through Chris Francis. The Titans remained focused and stuck to the script, which soon saw them score their second try of the day, through winger Matt Jess. The first half continued to be back and forth, with neither team crossing the line. The score at half time was 5-12.
The second half began with great energy and purpose, a charge down from Dan Ogden meant all he had to do was pick the ball up but a push from behind meant he wasn't able to do so. The ref saw fit for a yellow card for the Guernsey 10, however no penalty try was awarded. A quick tap saw Taunton play on and after a few phases, a sizeable gap opened up and the opportunity was seized by Lewis Webb to get over the line.
Points were scored by both teams in quick succession, making the score 12-26 with around 25 minutes left to play. Taunton started to defend exceptionally well and were willing to throw themselves into anything, snuffing out any real chance for Guernsey. With changes to both sides, the game opened up and much to the enjoyment of the travelling supporters, Taunton played some great rugby. Several line breaks eventually allowed Connor Baker to emerge through Guernsey's defensive line and with footwork that would make most backs jealous, he skipped around the fullback.
Sam Prior found his way through a hole, put his foot down and managed to run in a great try from around 40 metres out! The game ended with a final score of 19-52
This was a great match to watch and the Taunton Titans delivered a huge performance throughout the 80 minutes, in both attack and defence. The team's hard work and winning score gave them even more of a reason to enjoy the rest of the weekend away and they celebrated until it was time to fly home. We will be catching up with the Titans' head coach, Tony Yapp, to hear his thoughts on what was a successful trip to Guernsey.