The Taunton faithful will know that every league game, whomsoever the opponents, can be as unpredictable as taking a ride on the hairiest switchback ride you can imagine and last Saturday’s home fixture for the Titans against league newcomers, Birmingham/Solihull (The Bees) was no exception. The Titans ran out eventual 27-12 victors but that score-line masks completely the tightrope they had to walk against seriously determined opponents to arrive at that point.
The Bees have found it difficult making the transition from the Midlands League to National League rugby having gained promotion last season and have struggled to find consistency but their display on Saturday gave evidence of the fact that they are through that difficulty and will trouble a few teams through the second half of the season. The Titans set hearts racing when from the very first kick off they moved the ball out of their own 22, sent it racing through several pairs of hands for Ollie Rice to run in and touch down within 35 seconds of the start. The conversion was missed against the strong wind but that set the tone for a strong opening spell for the home side leading to another try, scored by Sam Brown, and the Titans looked set fair for an easy afternoon stroll. They went further ahead mid-way through the half with another try by the spring-heeled Rice but slowly, almost imperceptibly, the visitors were beginning to assert themselves.
With their beefy pack gradually showing its teeth The Bees clawed a score back with wing man Smith rounding off a kick and chase but The Titans went further ahead with lock Charlie Williams scoring the try of the game, powering in over 35 yards to touch down near the posts for Brown to convert. The Bees came back in for another try created by their forwards pushing the Titans back over their line and so the half closed out 22-12 in favour of the Titans with the thought that The Bees flattered to deceive. How little we knew!
The second half became a real cut and thrust of ebb and flow rugby with The Bees pack becoming ever-more assertive, winning the set pieces and setting up a very effective rolling maul. They were rewarded with a pushover try in the 52nd minute and so the score remained 22-17 with twice The Bees looking as if they would grab the lead, once through an intercepted pass that was mercifully hauled down just short of the line and once when their forwards were penalised under the Titans’ posts when looking as if a score was inevitable. The Titans breathed again – clawed their way back in and then put the matter beyond doubt with a try by Polish international Aron Struminski.
When all other results came in The Titans found their bonus point victory had moved them up into second place in the League with the away game this coming Saturday against Canterbury, now in third place, taking on significant importance to both sides. It’s sweaty palms time in both camps now with a super game in prospect.