A large crowd at the Commsplus Stadium on Friday night were treated to an entertaining local derby with Taunton taking the spoils against a dogged Clifton who kept on playing to the final whistle.
It was the home side that started the brightest with Toby East kicking a penalty in the opening minutes. With both defences on top it took quarter of an hour before the first try which went the Titans way and a rare try for prop Isaac Dalton who rumbled over. The try came from a quick tap penalty taken by scrum half Jacob Nash who took it up to the Clifton 5 meter line. After multiple phases getting into double figures Dalton spotted the gap close to the ruck and burrowed over. East missed the conversion but made amends 10 minutes later when he converted winger Oscar Kolowski’s try, his 4th in 3 games, in the corner. It was Oscar himself that cleverly saved a penalty from going into touch on his own 22 meter line. The tap back fell to Ollie Rice who took it on past a couple of defenders before the forwards rumbled it on up the pitch with some big carries by second row Barrie-John Chapman, Dalton and Sam Prior before the backs were release and Rice put Kolowski away. The converted try opened up a 15 point lead. Both teams had scoring chances in the remainder of the half but failed to convert.
The visitors took the game to Taunton at the start of the second half and fly half Thomas Francis kicked a penalty to open their account. Another Clifton penalty failed to make touch and as the ball was moved from one side of the pitch to the other a whole was spotted and a great break by Julian Salvi caused the Clifton defence to scramble and after the ball was once again shifted from one side to the other a great off load by Sam Prior put Ollie Rice and his dancing feet into a gap to beat the defence, East converted to make the score 22 – 3 with half an hour to go.
Clifton then started to get their big runners into the game and found their way to the Titans 22 and scored a try through Mer-Redith Lloyd, the conversion was missed. The Titans came straight back and scored through the impressive Jarrard Hayler. Ollie Rice collected his own high kick and Hayler burst through the gap. He was held up short but managed to off load to Nash who in turn popped it back to Hayler to score, East once again converted.
Lloyd then went in for his second try of the evening before Taunton had the last word when Sam Brown found a bug enough hole to run through for a try after a great run by winger Aron Strumminski. The conversion made the score 36 – 13 with just under 10 minutes to go.
Those last few minutes were all Clifton as they hammered the Titans line but once again some resolute defence kept the visitors out until the final whistle.
The County Store man of the match could have been a few names but there was no arguing after Barrie-John Chapman was named as he had one of his best games for the club