National 2 South

Westcliff 27, Taunton Titans 54

The Taunton Titans undertook one of their longest road trips on Saturday to take on the challenge of league newcomers, Westcliff, in a game that had huge importance for both sides, writes Dick Macey.

Taunton have started the season well and are proving to be a truly competitive outfit while Westcliff - based in Southend-on-Sea - have yet to win a game this campaign and are already scrapping for league survival, languishing at the bottom of the league.

With a fierce wind and bright sun at their backs, it was the seasiders who grabbed hold of the game in the initial thrusts and parries.

Despite the Titans putting the first score on the board through a try by James Tait, converted by Gary Kingdom, Westcliff were determined to grab the initiative and give themselves momentum.

They stormed back to dot down two converted tries and a penalty goal and their tails were up.

Taunton responded with a try by lock Charlie Williams, converted by Kingdom, but as half-time approached Westcliff went further ahead with a penalty goal.

It was only by sheer gutsy determination that the Taunton boys grabbed a third try through scrum-half Tait, again converted by the trusty Kingdom, that the Titans went in 21-20 in front.

The second half was an altogether different tale.

The unrelenting wind was now at the backs of the Titans and they exploited the advantage to the full.

Kingdom was at his thoughtful, strategic best, pinging cross kicks for his swift-running backs to run on to.

Despite Westcliff’s willingness to fight back with their now wilting resources, the Titans gobbled up their scoring opportunities and ran in tries through the in-form Williams and two each by wingers Oscar Kalowski and Jack Arnott, Kingdom converting three of them and Tait one.

This try-fest finally came to an end with the Titans running out 27-54 victors and the home side once more finding themselves somewhat battered after the onslaught.

This game was a potential banana skin for the Titans but this year’s squad seem to be made of sterner stuff and this victory places them at the top of the league, equal on points with Tonbridge/Juddians who suffered a surprise home defeat at the hands of Henley Hawks.

That position will be well tested this Friday evening when the Titans entertain near-neighbours Clifton (kick off 7.30pm), who themselves are going well.

An enthralling contest beckons and my suggestion to those who are feeling slightly World Cup weary – come and enjoy some really entertaining grass roots rugby.