For some unaccountable reason the games between Taunton Titans and Worthing Raiders always produce a hatful of scores and last Saturday’s encounter between these two sides at Towergate Stadium proved to be in the exactly that same vein(writes Dick Macey).
Not having played at home since the latter part of November,having endured four away games, the Titans were clearly happy to be back on their home turf and not some of the cabbage patches they had encountered on the road caused by the recent heavy rain. They showed their relief by taking the game to the visitors from the very first moments of the game and within three minutes were 7-0 up through a classy try rounded off by Nick Mason and converted by Gary Kingdom. Not to be outshone the Raiders immediately responded with a converted try of their own and the die was cast. End to end play, counter attack followed by counter attack set the tone for the half. Titans went ahead with a try by Greg Kitson, again converted by Kingdom,only for the Raiders to respond within moments with an unconverted try and to then take the lead 14-15 with a penalty goal. The Titans showed a worrying chink in their armour by failing to tackle wide out thus letting the Raiders through but otherwise they were holding territorial superiority.
They reclaimed the lead through a try by Dan Lee, converted by the imperious Kingdom, only for the Raiders to pounce back into the front with a converted try, almost immediately turned around by the restless Titans with a try by Ben Oliphant-Thompson, converted by Kingdom, which saw the home side in for the break 28-22 ahead and the large crowd loving every minute of an absorbing game.
The second session began with the Raiders closing the gap with a penalty goal only for the Taunton boys to stretch their lead with an unconverted try by Jack Arnott. The Raiders pounced almost immediately with a converted try to bring the score back to 33-32 and there the scoring slowed down as both sides blotted out each other’s attacking attempts. The Worthing quest faltered when the referee produced a red card to dismiss a Raider for a what he perceived to be a dangerous “no arm “ high tackle and this perhaps ended their prospects. The Titans were determined not give any quarter, clinging to their narrow lead, so it all became nail-bitingly tight and relief was found through a final minute try by Isaac “Sniffer” Dalton,converted by Kingdom, which robbed Worthing of their losing bonus point and secured victory for the Titans 40-32.
In securing this important 5 point win the Titans closed the gap a little on the league leaders, Tonbridge/Juddians, and held their own on the Henley Hawks who sit a notch above the Titans in second place and whom the Taunton boys take on next Saturday at Henley. With fingers and toes crossed , if the Taunton boys can glean something from that game, then the whole scenario will be set up for the “cruncher” when Tonbridge Juddians visit Towergate Stadium on the 18th for what could be a season-defining head to head. It’s getting tight at the top but gloriously exciting!