On a lovely sunny day in Henley-On-Thames with perfect conditions for two teams that like to play fast expansive rugby this was a cracking end to end game but with only one team deserving the victory as the hosts attacked their visitors and won nearly every aspect of the game and capitalised on all of the Titans mistakes.
From the kick off Taunton were under pressure but managed to weather the storm and get out of their half after 5 minutes of continued pressure from the Hawks. As the Titans made their first venture into the Henley half they took the ball all the way to the home sides try line only to lose the ball in an off load. This off load turned out to be the story of the day for the Titans as Henley attacked from behind their own try line and take the ball all the way up to the Titans try line and would have scored if it wasn’t for a try saving tackle from Ollie Rice. The relief from Taunton was short lived as they cleared to touch and from the resulting lineout the home pack drove over the line for second row Jacob Albon to score.
The conversion was missed by fly half Ben Bolster however, he made up for it 10 minutes later. From another good attack from the Titans the hosts took a quick lineout and from their own 22 meter line made it up to the Taunton 22 and some quick ball created the hole in the Titans defence for Bolster to go under the posts and adding the conversion to his own try and gave Henley a 12 – 0 lead.
The Titans tried to get themselves back in the game and attacked well but simple mistakes allowed the hosts to take advantage and exploit some tired Taunton defence. With 3 minutes left of the half Henley made it 3 tries when centre Dan Barnes going over, giving the Hawks a 17 – 0 half time lead.
With not a lot going well for Taunton they needed to come out in the second half and put some points on the board early and that they did when Aron Struminski dotted down after just 2 minutes This was the only time the Titans would trouble those operating the scoreboard as it was all one way traffic after that. Henley seemed to up their game following that try and won all the contact battles driving the Titans back time and time again. When Taunton did manage to stretch the hosts defence a simple mistake would see the chance gone and more often than not the hosts would exploit it once again and nearly end up scoring.
With 30 minutes left of the game the Hawks claimed their bonus point try through back rower Sam Lunnon with Bolster converting. The game went into an end to end type game which played into Henley’s hands as they always looked the more dangerous in broken play than Titans. With 15 minutes of the game to go Henley added a 5th try through full back Liam O’Neill.
To be fair to Taunton they kept on attacking until the end but the Hawks last try summed up the day for the Titans. A mistake up field allowed Henley to clear through a kick from one of their props and as Taunton tried to gather the bouncing ball it was knocked forward and Lunnon gathered and raced free to claim his second of the day. Bolster converted to finish the game off and give the Hawks a great and well deserved win and the advantage in the chase for the second place with Canterbury.
As for the Titans they will have to regroup and go again. The fact that in the 5 games that Taunton have played against the other 4 teams around them they have only won 1 of those games, and that was by a point, and shows that they are a long way off competing at the top of the league let alone in the division above. From those 5 games the Titans have only beaten Canterbury at home by a single point and have scored 112 points but conceded 146. Three of those loses were by a single score but winning by those fine margins is the difference in challenging at the top or being one of those also rans which once again it looks like the Titans will be for another season.