TAUNTON TITANS 30 CANTERBURY 5
Hyde Park, Taunton has never been the happiest place for Canterbury and they showed little sign of breaking a sequence of defeats there after conceding three first half tries.
Even worse was the serious leg injury sustained by young back rower Jamie Stephens and with prop Aaron Cooper also forced off before half time this was clearly not the city club’s day.
It takes nothing away from a tidy Titans side who took their opportunities and had little trouble dealing with an opposition who became all too predictable in attack.
A sticky surface was not to the city club’s liking either and held back good breaks by Guy Hilton and Aiden Moss which could have kept them in the hunt. By that time, however, Taunton were thirteen points ahead with tries from scrum-half Ollie Massey-Birch and hooker John Gatford plus a penalty goal by Gary Kingdom.
Massey-Birch spotted space down a blind side channel and collected his own chip ahead, while Gatford’s score came courtesy of a well martialed catch and drive.
It was a third try, late in the half, that seriously undermined Canterbury and it came as Titans, under pressure, stole ball near their own line. Kingdom cleared to half way, the kick was not dealt with and Taunton wing Tom Popham hacked on before Titans won a scrum Number Eight Sam Prior claimed the pushover touchdown and Kingdom converted to put his side twenty points clear. That left Canterbury, including a missed penalty shot, with nothing to show for their efforts and a big repair job complete.
They put some of that right by injecting greater urgency into their play at the start of the second half. Fly half Jonny Jones tested Titans defence before an overlap was worked for wing Kieran Thompson to cross at the corner four minutes in.
It needed a positive follow up and with Canterbury enjoying more possession and territory they had grounds for optimism. But it was a lack of ideas and haphazard passing that sank them as they gave Taunton’s defenders the easiest of rides.
Having failed to make any impression, Canterbury’s ill-starred day got worse in the last ten minutes. Yellow cards for Will Farris and Sam Rogers eventually reduced them to thirteen men and Taunton, having grabbed a bonus point try when wing Freddie Fraser seized on a dropped ball, took full advantage with a final pushover score from Aaron Gibbs.
Canterbury: A.Moss, G.Hilton, JJ Murray, W. Farris, K.Thompson, J.Jones, D.Smart (repl W.Hilton), A.Cooper (repl C.Townley), T.Rogers (repl S.Rogers), J.Green (repl S.Kenny), R.Cadman, G,Edwards, S.Rogers (repl M.Cantwell), H.McCormick-Huston, J.Stephens (repl G.Micans)
|8||Bury St Edmunds||30||77|
|13||London Irish Wild Geese||30||57|
|W||7 Apr||London Irish Wild Geese||43-7|
|L||17 Feb||Bury St. Edmunds||26-46|
|L||10 Feb||Taunton Titans||12-21|
|W||13 Jan||Old Redcliffians||48-29|
|L||23 Dec||Tonbridge Juddians||19-22|
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