Titans Start 2018 with a Bang at Barnstaple
After a shocking performance last season at Barnstaple, the Titans show how they can play.
The Titans brought the New Year in with the own brand of fireworks running in nine tries as they claimed some revenge on their defeat at Barnstaple last season.
It was a cold and windy day up at Pottington Road and it was the home side that got on the score board first as the Titans struggled to get out of their own half kicking into the wind. Full back Luke Berry went over after a good break by the home captain backrower Wynston James, the conversion was missed in the strong wind to give Barnstaple a 5 – 0 lead.
The Titans then started to keep the ball in hand in the conditions and were rewarded with a try a few minutes later when Brett Harvey was bundled over the line by the forwards to score a try on his 100th league appearance for the Titans. The forwards then produced the 2nd Titans try 10 minutes later when from a lineout hooker Paul Davis was at the back of the maul to claim his first try of the season.
Taunton were now in full control and were making large dents in the Barnstaple defence by keeping the ball for long periods and moving the ball through the phases with both the forward and backs combing well. The next try however came from a Barnstaple mistake and the Titans capitalised with Harvey this time the provider as he released winger Jack Claydon on his own 10 meter line and he raced away to swallow dive into the corner.
Taunton scored their bonus point try a few minutes later when from a Barnstaple box kick full back Ollie Rice carried the ball back where it was recycled quickly for quick hands by the forwards who released Aron Struminski to race down the wing. Sturminski was tackled just outside the home side’s 22 meter line, the ball was sent to the opposite wing where it was recycled once more for prop Connor Baker to sell the dummy and dive over the line. Fly half Toby East converted this try as well as a further 2 before half time as the Titans began to run riot.
Next to score was Paul Davis who claimed his second of the afternoon, this came from a turnover that Davis scooped up on his own 10 meter line and fed it out to the backs. Captain Nick Mason then made a fine break and was tackled 5 meters short of the line and as the ball was fed out of the quick ruck Davis barged his way over.
From the kick off number 8 Sam Prior carried the ball back to the 10 meter line. The ball was then sent out to the backs where Freddie Fraser then made inroads before the ball was picked up by scrum half Lewis Webb. As Webb ran across the defensive line he floated the ball out to Struminski who used his pace to break some tackles and make it to the Barnstaple 22. Another quick ruck and some great off loading in the tackle gave enough space for Ollie Rice to go over and score. With East’s conversion this brought the half time score to 5 – 36.
The second half the Titans had the wind at their backs but it was straight from the kick off that they once again forced the error from the home side. Prop Isaac Dalton pounced on the ball and it was fed out to Ratu ‘Toots’ Vakalutukali who drove the ball forward to the Barnstaple 22. A couple of phases later second row Stu Persey broke the tackle and made it to the 5 meter line before Ollie Rice took it even closer. Another quick ruck ball allowed Toots to release the players outside him to score but the home defence knocked the ball forward. The referee played the advantage so Toots picked up the ball, sold the dummy and dived over the line to score. East converted once more to make the score 5 – 43.
Barnstaple now started to keep hold of the ball themselves and were rewarded with a try through Ryan Lee, with Gwyn Parks converting. However it was the Titans that finished the strongest. First Struminski was the scorer as another Barnstaple mistake was scooped up by Dan Frost, who has returned from his loan period to Cornish Pirates, and drew the last defender to send in Struminski.
The Titans were then reduced to 13 men after two yellow cards, one for Paul Davis and the other for Connor Banks after a few too many penalties in a row but it was the visitors that scored again when on the edge of their own 22 Nick Mason intercepted and managed to release Struminski who raced away. On a normal dry track there would have been no stopping him but he was caught 5 meters out but Mason had followed him all the way and took the pop pass off him to score. The conversion was missed and the Titans held out with the man disadvantage and see the game out for a great start to the New Year.