Chris Brown the Titans Forwards coach came to the pre-match lunch and stated that he would know how the game would go within the first 5 minutes and after the first scrum. They had a big well drilled pack and if we did not match them in the loose and at the scrum we were in for a long afternoon. From the Taunton kick off Rams fielded the ball and kicked back at Taunton which resulted in a Taunton knock on. Rams scrum which Taunton held firm. From that scrum Rams went through the phases for 4 minutes without Taunton getting any possession. The Taunton defence was solid and eventually the ball came their way and they went through several phases. There then came a series of kicks from both sides which opened up a chance for Rams to attack but a fantastic tackle from Taunton chasing back and Rams not releasing the ball gave Taunton a chance to clear their lines and set up their own attack. From this Taunton attacked and a clever kick through saw Rams this time clearing their line Taunton gather and again attach and when the attack broke down Taunton are awarded a penalty for off side by Rams and Gary Kingdom slots over for Taunton to have the lead after 19 minutes 3 points to nil. It was 26 minutes before Rams got points on the board when after a series of penalties from both sides Rams kick to the corner from one of their lineout drives the ball if fed back for a delicate kick through by Rams which went over the Taunton try line. The cover defence seemed to be able to deal with this but that oval shaped ball did the unexpected and Rams were able to get the touch down by their centre Jones which was converted giving Rams a 7points to 3 lead. From the restart Rams again using their forwards used the driving mauls to pin Taunton back and as a result penalties were conceded with one such being kicked to touch by Rams and another driving maul from which there was a break off and a feed to Rams centre Jones for his second try which was again converted. This gave Rams a 14 point to 3 lead which they carried in to half time.
Rams kicked off the second half and a miss timed jump to field the ball went on to a Taunton boot which went forward into a Taunton player and the referee awarded a Rams penalty. They kicked at goal and increased their lead to 17 points. A lead which they held until 56 minutes into the game when endless drives at the line by Taunton from a tapped penalty resulted in a yellow card and another penalty for Taunton. Again a tap and drive and drive and drive until Sam Maunder sent out a pass to Jack Walsh who sent a long pass missing both centres to Frankie Dart who went over in the corner. Gary missed the kick from a long way out but the deficit was reduced with Taunton 8 Rams 17. This was again a tremendous resurgence from Taunton and they were going to make that extra man count. They gradually worked their way back to the Rams line and under the posts with drive after drive and again Rams deliberately infringing brought another yellow card now down to 13 men and both of the ones off for Rams were front row forwards so from the resultant penalty Taunton opted for a scrum. There was a hold up whilst Rams sorted out replacements and shouts from the crowd were totally misplaced as our 4thOfficial Steve Frost had made sure that the referee had stopped his watch whilst the situation was sorted. The scrum eventually went ahead and none other than “man of the match” Sam Prior picked up from the back of the scrum and with two Rams players hanging on he crashed over for a try which Gary Kingdom converted. Thirteen minutes left to go and Taunton again went on the attack some good half breaks by the centres, a storming run by Jack Walsh who got the ball to Aron Struminski who made a break but could not get through the Rams defence and then from inside his own half Sam Maunder made one of those breaks which took him up to just outside the Rams 22 but when tackled the referee adjudged that Sam had held on too long now just 5 minutes left when Rams kicked to touch and won the line out. You could now see their ploy on the Taunton 10 metre line drive after drive, going nowhere but retaining the ball and running the clock down however on one such drive a knock on resulting in a Taunton scrum. Taunton must attack and they do, getting to just outside the Rams 10 metre line. The whistle goes on 80 minutes, this would be the last kick of the game a Taunton penalty. Up steps Gary Kingdom and tees up the ball. Silence from the crowd until one Rams supporter shouts out and even his own supporters told him to shut up. 500 Taunton supporters willing the ball to go over and go over it did as did the final whistle leaving a score of Taunton 18 Rams 17.
There was a lot to be learnt from this game in that only two front row replacements were used in the game for Taunton so 13 of those Taunton players played a full 80 minutes and their fitness showed at the end of the game so we must not forget Lyndon Lane who is their strength and conditioning coach making sure that they are fit to play a whole game. Two of the front row were replaced but they were as good as the players they replaced and the substitutions were seamless. The front row being the corner stone gives the foundation for an outstanding second row powerhouse performance fully supported by the backrow who again attacked and defended as a unit. Chris Brown the Forwards coach must take a lot of credit for the way he has built and motivated that group. Rams afterwards admitted that the half backs always put them on the back foot as they were not predictable and as they showed on several occasions taking the Rams defence apart. Two centres who against lesser opposition would have made those breaks and scored. Wings who can not only attack but work as aback three with Gary Kingdom but it was also noticeable how Jack Walsh, Sam Maunder and Sam prior also turned up in that back three. This must be accredited to Tony Yapp who has responsibility for the overall strategy. So whilst the team selected put on an outstanding display let us not forget those who have got them there. Finally in a comment from the team they were extremely grateful for the support and encouragement from the crowd and as a result felt that little bit more drive and impetus. So thank you to all.