It was nice to turn up to play on a pitch which was dry and well managed and a bonus that the weather was good. This posed for an entertaining game there was only one yellow card for a technical infringement. After 3 minutes Taunton were awarded a penalty which normally Gary would have put in the corner for a Taunton catch and drive however this showed a different intent with the option to kick at goal and put three points on the board.
What would normally have been a success just drifted to the left of the posts and this demonstrated the strength of the wind. From drop out Taunton again gathered but knocked on for a Henley scrum. The result brought gasps from the crowd who commented that no one does that to the Henley pack for on their own ball Taunton drove them back a good fifteen metresto be awarded a penalty which Gary this time duly obliged. Henley kick off Taunton safely gathered in but they lost the ball which Henley moved out David Hyde the Henley second row out in the centre burst through two missed tackles and suddenly Taunton from being dominant were 5 point 6s down soon to be 7 with the conversion. However Taunton pressured from the kick off and eventually turned the ball over for Kitson to do what he is good at use his pace and dexterity to make an elusive break which Henley stopped illegally resulting in a penalty. This time Gary put the ball into the corner, the catch and drive was overpowering and again an illegal stoppage by the Henley back row resulted in a yellow card for them and a penalty try for Taunton. This restored Taunton's lead. From the kick off there forward power then won the ball and several drives later the ball came back for Jack Arnott this time to have a clear run at the line but Henley do not miss tackles and Jack was brought down 10 metres short and in the process lost the ball. From the resultant scrum they kicked to touch and Taunton lost their line out.
Henley drove through and eventually spun the ball back towards their left wing the tackle was missed as was the covering tackle and the Henley wing strolled in for a simple try. The wind played its part again as the conversion was missed. More Taunton pressure from the kick off and as so frequently was happening errors with an abundance of opportunity and again Henley turned over the ball two or three passes another missed tackle and Henley were in for their third try with half time approaching. But Taunton came and won a penalty which Gary put into the Henley 25. Taunton won the resultant lineout and the drive went towards that Henley line this could be the leveller but after several drives Henley did the inevitable and turned the ball over for a kick to touch and the end of the half.
19 points to 10 could be retrieved but within 2 minutes of the kick off another missed tackle in that wing channel saw a supporting Henley centre in for a try which was converted. Only three minutes later an enormous gap emerged around the base of the ruck which the Henley forwards took advantage of to feed quick ball to their scrum half who went over for a try which he converted. With 33 points on the board this looked like a done deal but not when you have the determination of the Taunton squad who on 58 minutes replied with a well taken try by Jack Arnott. From then it was forward dominance and although George Gosling had gone off with a broken hand Connor Baker was doing a sterling job as a fill in hooker. The front row were rewarded with an excellent drive and a try which they repeated fourminutes later and all of a sudden the score was 33 to 28 with time up on the clock.
However the game went on and that front row again dominated a scrum which Henley had won with Gary kicking the penalty to the corner. Could those Forwards again show their supremacy and steal the game. The throw in came and Henley stole the ball. This proved to be the end of what was a very exciting game in which rather than Henley winning the game it was Taunton mistakes which allowed them to do that but make no mistake the Taunton team are a very well developed and coached unit and those comments were made by Henley.
The Titans have now lost a little ground to the two sides ahead of them, Henley and this coming week’s opponents, Tonbridge/Juddians, but there is no evidence of the fat lady doing her thing. Indeed the Titans performance will have been such of truly confidence-lifting experience TJ’s will have to look to their laurels come three o’clock on Saturday afternoon.
Two weeks later (1st February) the Titans will be playing league newcomers, Westcliff, for another big game and the pre-match lunch, designated the President’s lunch, will feature a fund-raising auction with some fantastic lots along with a bumper raffle and lots of fun to be had (12.30pm for lunch. 3.00pm for the kickoff).