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RUGBY: Titans stage superb comeback
6:05pm Monday 14th October 2013 in Somerset Sport
TAUNTON Titans swept away the cobwebs of a poor first half and overwhelmed a gutsy Canterbury side to win 38-34 in front of a jubilant Hyde Park crowd on Saturday.
In a superb turnaround the Titans came storming back from 7-24 down at half-time to seal victory, scoring four tries and a converted penalty in the second period to see off the visitors from Kent.
The opening minutes were all Canterbury as they looked to expose a nervy start by the home side and camped in the Titans 22 immediately from the kick off.
They got their due reward when some poor defensive alignment gave Kwaku Asiedu far too much space on the left and the winger touched down in the corner to put Canterbury ahead 0-5 with just two minutes gone.
The Titans looked distinctly subdued in attack, and their initial forays into Canterbury territory yielded little to celebrate save for a lone 25-yard Popham break that eventually earned a penalty kick, but Kingdom was off target with the boot.
It got worse in the 14th minute when a clearance kick from Kingdom was ran back with gusto by fullback Martyn Beaumont. Some non-existent defending opened a huge hole in midfield and his simple offload to Charlie Harding for their second try put the visitors ahead 0-10.
Kingdom missed another penalty kick before some much improved build-up play by the forwards set up number 8 Dan Lee for a fine charge over from 20 yards out. Kingdom converted to bring the score to 7-10.
The Taunton men remained out of sorts in defence however. Further tries in the 34th and 39th minutes for Harding and Cadman put the visitors deservedly ahead 7-24 at halftime and the home side with a lot of work to do.
Tactical changes at halftime by the Titans proved an immediate success in the second half. Tom Popham was the first beneficiary as his wonderfully timed run split the midfield and gave the local lad a clear path to touch down under the posts. Kingdom converted to put the hosts 14-24 behind.
Five minutes later the Titans’ resurrection continued with another try. Ever-improving back row youngster Sam Skinner claimed his spot on the score sheet as he crashed over from five yards out following more excellent pressure from the home side.
With the score now 21-24 it was game on. Canterbury were looking tired, but still had plenty of fight and a successful 55th minute penalty kick by Harding to move them ahead 21-27 was a reminder that they wouldn’t go down without a fight.
The Titans were on a roll though, and they soon had their opponents pinned in their own 22 once more with a series of assuredly patient ‘pick and go’ attacks from the forwards drawing in defenders.
With space appearing out wide second row Paul Davis had just enough room to power over in the corner. A superb touchline conversion from Kingdom had the crowd on their feet, and put the Titans ahead for the first time at 28-27 with 61 minutes played.
Canterbury ran the changes from the bench and launched a strong offensive. The now confidence-fuelled Titans defence held firm, and a 73rd minute penalty gave Kingdom the chance to move them further ahead. His strike was good and Titans now lead 31-27.
The home side effectively sealed the win just two minutes later. A superb take by Davis at the restart set the tone, and two phases later a bullocking run from Plummer set up a lovely break by Jamie Fleming with Fijian debutant Toots Vakalutukali in support.
As the Canterbury defence desperately scrambled the ball was recycled quickly to winger Ollie Claxton. His cheeky dummy pass bamboozled the remaining defenders and he gleefully raced through to score near the posts. Kingdom converted for a 38-27 lead.
A losing bonus point was still a possibility for the visitors, and to their credit they through everything at the Titans for the final phase of play. Winger Aiden Moss made the breakthrough and touched down with the final action of the match, Harding converting.
County Stores Man of the Match: second row Paul Davis.