West Country Wills Preview Titans vs Cinderford

Article published:
April 10, 2024

Say what you like about the season as a whole, but there’s no denying that the end of season is – for the second consecutive year – providing a double dose of drama. One has to wonder who the scriptwriter is for Tony Yapp and his Taunton Titans as the theatrics of this long campaign reach its denouement. Travelling North to Sale FC for a notoriously tough fixture, the pride of Somerset netted five crucial league points against a Cheshire side who had all but guaranteed their own survival in National League One prior to kick-off. Courtesy of their four tries, Sale will definitely play in English rugby’s third tier’s next edition. Whether or not Titans line up alongside them remains to be seen but, if they don’t, the division will be all the poorer for it after braces of tries from Charlie Wright and captain Ratu Vakalutukali alongside scores from Oscar Stewart and Elvis Taione secured a 27-41 win.


A look at the table with two rounds of matches to go still shows Titans in last place but everything has concertinaed between the four sides at risk of the drop as Leicester Lions fell 42-12 at Champions-elect Chinnor and Bishop’s Stortford picked up a losing bonus point in a 17-13 defeat at Darlington Mowden Park. Cinderford, the other team in the mix and visitors this coming Saturday to play Taunton at Veritas Park, sneaked a thriller in the Forest of Dean with a 29-28 victory over third-placed Rosslyn Park. With the bottom two teams at close of play on 20th April suffering relegation, the table reads:


                                                           Points Difference                    Points

11        Bishop’s Stortford                               -162                             47

12        Leicester Lions                                    -214                             45

13        Cinderford                                           -236                             44

14        Taunton Titans                                    -239                             43


This coming weekend, whilst Titans host Cinderford in the final league fixture of the season at Veritas Park, Leicester Lions have a home fixture against Darlington Mowden Park (sixth on the table) and Bishop’s Stortford are also at home, against Sale FC. In the other results from Saturday just gone Blackheath had a 25-15 home win over Sedgley Park, Richmond and Birmingham Moseley shared the spoils 17-17 and Plymouth Albion triumphed 28-22 over second-placed Rams.


When Taunton travelled to Gloucestershire in December they had a hammer-and-tongs clash with Cinderford, ultimately losing a man to the bin late on and conceding a penalty try in the process in a 40-31 defeat. Charlie Wright scored two tries on that occasion as well. The back rower has crossed the whitewash 18 times this season, placing him fifth in the division (Titans’ Noah Fenton remains in third place despite having been overseas for the second half of the campaign).


Formed in 1886 and playing at National League One level since promotion in 2017-18, the men in red, black and yellow finished in 7th place last season. Following World War Two it was largely thanks to Bob and Mary Beavis that Cinderford RFC was re-established and in recognition their ground bears their name, Mary having been the club’s Honorary Secretary for fifty years.


Headed up by Director of Rugby Paul Morris and with Clive Stuart-Smith (a former half-back partner of Tony Yapp in his Exeter Chiefs days) coaching the side, Cinderford has a stable squad, often bolstered by players on loan from Hartpury College and Gloucester Rugby. Their forward pack is traditionally gnarly and it will be vital to compete up front with their grisly scrum. In recent times the likes of internationals Harry Williams (Montpellier, Exeter and England), Josh Adams (Worcester, Cardiff, Wales and British & Irish Lions), Freddie Burns (Highlanders and England) and Sam Underhill (Bath and England) have represented Cinderford RFC.


Counties 2 Tribute Somerset Champions, Taunton Warriors, wrapped up their season with a 38-17 home win over third-placed Avon. These are important building blocks for the club and co-coaches John Wrelton and Brett Harvey deserve great recognition for the work they have done with a (mostly) very young squad. It will be interesting to follow their fortunes as they step up a division next term and to see whether playing numbers can be increased.


This Saturday’s match sponsor at Veritas Park is Coleman Plumbing and heating, TRFC will be delighted to welcome Kev and the team back. The match ball sponsor this weekend is long term TRFC Supporter Civil Solutions headed up by Nigel Drew.  


It’s the last chance to see National League One action in Somerset this season. The Titans are fighting tooth and nail to retain their status in the division for next time round. A bumper home crowd roaring them on against relegation rivals Cinderford would help lift their effort. Let’s make Veritas Park busy, noisy and, come 5pm, jubilant.


Kick-off for Titans vs Cinderford at Veritas Park is at 3pm. Entry is £15 for adults and free for Under-16s. Parking at Veritas Park on Hyde Lane costs £5 with free parking in the overflow car park across the road. Sadly, it’s the last opportunity this season to partake of the sensational pre-match two-course carvery, still just £20 per person. Contact the club office on 01823 336363 to make a booking. There will also be delicious hot pasties and coffees available before and during the game from the Proper Cornish pasty van and three bars will be open.


Taunton resident and rugby lover, Richard Kitzinger writes content for Taunton RFC’s club website and match-day programmes. His day job is writing Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney - he can be found at www.westcountrywills.co.uk or reached on 07504 991893.

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Article published by:

Richard Kitzinger


Rugby fan and Taunton resident, Richard loves watching Titans and creates written content for the rugby club.