National 2 South
Sutton & Epsom 12, Taunton Titans 15

THIS was a game between the side fourth from bottom of the league against a side third from the top, and you might have been forgiven for thinking it might well be a one-sided affair on that basis, writes Dick Macey.

Taunton, however, have learned over time that every game is a potential banana skin and this one proved to be just that, with the Taunton boys having to dig deep to carve out a victory that for 99 per cent of the game looked as if it might elude them.

The Titans are notoriously slow starters and the Sutton side were on the front foot from the very first whistle, aided by the visitors' apparent inability to catch any ball from a kick-off, being guilty of dropping four kicks from such starts through the game and thus in the process gifting the ball straight back to their opposition.

Sutton were determined to take something from the game; they tackled ferociously, defended the few Titans attacks with steely determination and, although there was no scoring in the first half, the home side had the lion's share of possession.

The second session began with the Titans dropping the ball from the kick-off.

Sutton seized their opportunity and, exploiting the gap created, nipped up the line to put the first score on the board.

This raised the spirits of the home side further and they grafted away through their very effective rolling maul to finish under the Titans’ posts and put their No 8 over for a converted try.

All the Titans had been able to do on a rare breakaway from their own zone in reply was to gratefully grab a try in the corner by full-back Greg Kitson.

Around 20 minutes into the half, the Titans finally decided enough was enough, and began to take control of the game.

They pegged the tiring Sutton side back on to their own line with a number of drives and finally were able to put Isaac Dalton over for his 11th try of the season, converted by Gary Kingdom to tie the scores at 12-12.

It was not until the game was in its death throes that the Titans found an opportunity to push their noses in front.

The referee awarded a penalty to the Titans close to the touchline and here the experience of Kingdom was brought to bear.

With deliberate precision, he set the ball up and then delivered the coup de grace to place the ball between the uprights and give the Titans victory as the referee blew time.

Tony Yapp, the Titans’ head coach, was patently relieved to put the four league points on the board and correctly claimed his side had just used one of their “Get out of Jail free” cards.

With Tonbridge Juddians and Henley Hawks also winning, Taunton remain third in the table, but very much on the top two's coat-tails.

This coming Saturday, the Titans trundle off for the third of their four consecutive away games before the Christmas break, and a visit to Bristol side Old Redcliffians.

By all accounts, their notoriously difficult sloping pitch is suffering in the very wet autumnal weather, which means the Titans will have to delve deep into their skills bag to bring home a result.