The weather held fair with even some sunshine and a good playing surface. The excitement was palpable as kick off time approached and a large crowd gathered at Commsplus Stadium in anticipation of what is always a humdinger between these two West Country sides and as the afternoon unfolded it was a nail-biter in the extreme. A full-blooded game of rugby flowing from end to end with both sides playing to their strengths and the result in doubt until almost the final whistle and the outcome giving the Titans the bragging rights – just.
The Titans began the more lively with an early try by Jarrad Hayler converted by Gary Kingdom followed shortly afterwards by a penalty goal giving the Titans a 10 point advantage. Redruth responded with an unconverted try by Brad Jones after some Reds’ forward pressure had put Taunton on the back foot. The Titans seemed rocked by the Reds response and dug in to take control of the remainder of the half. They moved the ball wide with purpose, stretching the Reds’ defence and thus creating gaps for their swift runners to exploit. A further penalty goal by Kingdom was followed by a try by the powerful Ratu Vatalutukali and another by Jacob Nash, converted by Kingdom, took the score at half-time to 25-5 for the Titans and they were looking comfortable.
No one at that time could have foreseen the change of fortunes that the second session brought about. Redruth clearly decided that their strengths lay in their forwards and they began to hammer away at the Titans’ defence almost at the re-start. Within four minutes they had a try on the board through hooker Richard Brown and the quality boot of Ashley Hoskings added the first of his four second half conversions and the Reds’ tails were up. Titans’ Nick Mason had the temerity to grab a try in the 54th minute but all that did was fire up the Reds and in the next 15 minutes they crossed the Titans’ line three times with Hoskings adding the extras each time and suddenly there was light at the end of the Cornishmen’s tunnel, they were in the lead 33-30 and looking utterly menacing.
Somehow the Titans decided that they were not to be outdone and after some good forward driving they were able to propel lock Andy England over the Reds line to go back into the lead 35-33 but even then there were nervy moments as the final whistle approached when the Reds tried to recover their momentum, but this time the Titans held firm to collapse across the finishing line.
Reds’ coach, Pale Nonu, was clearly disappointed with the final outcome and stated that he thought they had fought hard enough in the second half to claim the spoils. Titans’ Head Coach was full of praise for the Redruth fight-back that had nearly brought them the game but he was even more animated about the Titans performance – “we played really well overall but we had to dig deep to come away with the five points. In truth the Reds will travel back to the Duchy with rueful thoughts of what was so nearly theirs – two points instead of five.
Man of the match was awarded to Ratu Vatalutukali.