National 2 South
Barnes 10, Taunton Titans 45

BY dint of good fortune, last Saturday’s game at Barnes RFC was rescued from having to be played on the swamps on the banks of the River Thames - where the London side normally play - and was transferred to the all-weather pitch at Rosslyn Park RFC just two miles away, writes Dick Macey.

An overnight and early morning deluge in West London had all but drowned the Barnes pitches, but this news only reached the Titans team when they were well on their way to the capital.

Barnes were able to offer the Rosslyn Park alternative, which was snapped up by Titans head coach Tony Yapp.

Due to the relentless nature of the weather, the Titans had not played since February 7, so were desperate to get some momentum going to continue their promotion quest - and the all-weather pitch was a godsend.

The game still began in heavy rain and hail, with a fierce wind blowing into the Titans’ faces, but the Taunton boys took the game to their hosts from the first whistle, showing their determination to stamp some authority on proceedings.

They were frustrated by the determined Barnes defence for a while, but a turning point came when the Barnes full-back became over-enthusiastic and recklessly applied a tip-tackle, followed up by a number of punches, resulting in a red card being shown.

Even though the odds were now in the Titans’ favour, handling proved difficult in the conditions and it was not until the half was almost closed out before they put their first points on the board, with a try wide out by flanker Ben Oliphant-Thompson, ably converted by Gary Kingdom.

The tide literally turned in the second half as the weather relented, and with the sun and wind at their backs the Titans proceeded to put the flagging Barnes side to the sword.

Using their forwards as their battering ram the Titans strode all over the game Barnes defenders and scored tries almost at will through Pierre Thompson, Connor Baker, Thomas Wyatt, Isaac Dalton, Dan Martin and Alex Spurdle, with four of the tries being converted by Kingdom.

Barnes threw everything at it for the last 10 minutes and were rewarded with two unconverted tries, but the Taunton boys emerged as worthy victors.

Taunton Titans: Gary Kingdom, Jack Arnott, Nick Mason, Jermaine Jones, Thomas Wyatt, Toby East, Pierre Thompson; Connor Baker, Alex Spurdle, Isaac Dalton, Cory Teague, Charlie Williams, Ben Oliphant-Thompson, Ratu Vakalutukali, Dan Lee. Replacements: Dan Martin, Lewis Webb, Brett Harvey, Sam Prior, Gary Carpenter.

The Titans fielded two debutants in their line-up - scrum-half Pierre Thompson and hooker Dan Martin - both of whom put their names on the scoresheet and impressed generally, adding strength to the squad as the final run-in begins.

Results elsewhere (Henley Hawks losing at fifth-placed Clifton) had the effect of moving the Titans up to second place in the league with a game in hand over leaders Tonbridge Juddians, who are two points ahead of Taunton and three up on Henley.