Those who chose to watch the rugby at Veritas Park last Saturday afternoon were privileged to witness an extraordinary game between two old adversaries, Taunton Titans and Tonbridge/Juddians, with the Titans emerging from this epic scrap the victors by 43-40. The Taunton faithful have become used to seeing the Titans clock up a large score on their own account and in the process take on board a shed load themselves as their opponents dish it out but rarely will you see a tussle of this quality or come across a score line of this unlikely magnitude, writes Dick Macey.
TJs were promoted alongside the Titans to National League One this season and although they haven't fared quite as well in this League campaign as the Taunton boys and are now to be relegated back to National 2(South), they have always been an "awkward squad" and have dished out some unlikely results in this current league campaign but not sufficient to keep them a float, such is the competitive nature of the rugby at this level. You can be assured, however, that their relegation will be short-lived if they turn in this type of rugby next season.
We have become familiar with the Titans being a little slow out of the blocks and although they posted an early score with a try by Harry Tarling, within 15 minutes of the start they were down 5-14 with TJs exploiting some defensive weaknesses in the Titans' backs. It was a relief, therefore, to see the Titans dig into the opposition and in the run up to half time score four tries through Connor Banks, skipper Charlie Wright with two and Dan Swain, with three being converted by Sam Baker. to take the score board to 31-14 and with the try-scoring bonus point in the bag. So far so good you would think.
As soon as the second session began, we were to be reminded of the fighting spirit of the visitors who decided they would take proceedings by the scruff of the neck and shake it about. They out-scored the Titans four tries to two with TJs converting three of these scores and the Titans posted two more converted tries through Sam Mercer (now four scores in four games) and "Toots" Vakalutukali with Sam Baker claiming the extras in both cases. Then TJs opened up again, running hard at the home side, and scored two more converted tries in the closing phases of the game to reduce their deficit to three points and the Titans, playing determinedly, but clinging on, to emerge the winners of this try-fest, seven being scored by Taunton and six by TJs.
A pulsating game of high quality running rugby with both sides occasionally making errors in the handling department which in hindsight were inevitable given the pace of the game. TJs took away two richly deserved bonus points whilst the Titans claimed five a which leaves them comfortably in a mid-table position with two more fixtures remaining in this campaign. This coming Saturday the Taunton boys make the short trip down country to take on Plymouth Albion before returning to home territory at Veritas Park for their last game of the season against Leeds Tykes who will be making their first ever visit to our County Town and cider country. A couple of really entertaining encounters in prospect.