Peter Gavin previews Taunton Titans v Worthing Raiders

ROUND 1

Taunton Titans v Worthing Raiders

1st September 2018 kick off 3pm

Raiders kick off the season with a trip to Somerset to take on Taunton Titans at their extensive Hyde Park facility (now known as Commsplus Ltd. Stadium).

Our visits to Taunton over recent years have not borne much fruit, last October was a one sided affair (81-14). The return visit on a soggy Saturday in January produced a close-run encounter (19-25).

Background stuff

Taunton RFC was founded in 1875 so it is up there with the oldest clubs, having been formed before the likes of London Scottish, Cardiff, Rosslyn Park and Saracens.

The club moved to their extensive facility, now known as Commsplus Ltd Stadium, in 2001 having played at Priory Park for the previous 66 years. The Bridgwater and Avon canal and the river Tone are nearby as is the M5 motorway. The surroundings are an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Historic Taunton (records go back to before 700 AD) is the County town of Somerset and home to Somerset County Cricket Club. Taunton is also home to 40 Commando Royal Marines. The area and the town is well known for Cider.

The club emerged through the South West leagues, going unbeaten in 2008-9. Back-to-back promotions elevated the club to National 2 South in 2010.

Titans have links with Exeter Chiefs. In earlier seasons they may have called upon players from Exeter University, although this connection, by design, is not now so prevalent. The University ‘Saturday’ team play in South West Premier (Level 5), having gained promotion last season.

Worthing v Taunton

The results of the matches between the clubs and the relative league positions by season are:

2010/11  T 17 – W 26 W 62 – T 7 W 8th   T 7th
2011/12  T 18 – W 22 W 73 – T 5 W 3rd   T 11th
2012/13  T 40 – W 57 W 68 – T 0 W 2nd (promoted) T 9th
2014/15  T 30 – W 17 W 27 – T 29 W 5th    T 3rd
2015/16  T 30 – W 12 W 27 – T 23 W 11th  T 4th
2016/17  T 59 – W 19 W 36 – T 33 W 12th   T 4th
2017/18  T 81 – W 14 W 19 – T 25 W 7th     T 4th

 

 7th October 2017 Titans 81 Raiders 14

Raiders, ravaged by injuries, travelled to unbeaten, near to table-topping Titans and felt the full brunt of a rampant Somerset outfit. Titans had 4 tries in the bag within the first 20 minutes or so and Raiders had conceded 13 tries by the end. Matt McLean scored all the Raiders points converting both of his tries.

Titans: Kingdom, Fraser, Mason, Popham, Rice, East, Webb, Kenny, Hamilton, Dalton, Persey, Lugg, Vakalutukali, Fleming, Prior.

Bench: Francis, Tribble, Chapman, Frost, Banks.

Raiders: Leeming, Maslen, Miller, Forrest, Hampson, McLean, Boyland, Ajaji, Gearing-Grief, Litterick, Lee, Lake, Dawe, Whittall, Redmayne.

Bench: Harris, Adams, Gatford, Cleveland, Coyle.

27th January 2018 Raiders 19 Titans 25 

Raiders took an early lead through Kemp Price and were 14-6 ahead after 20 minutes when winger Sam Boyland crossed. (Matt McLean converting both.) No change in the score-line by oranges. A yellow card for prop George Head turned the game in the visitors’ favour, as they added tries by Ollie Rice and Paul Davis during his absence. One was converted by Gary Kingdom for the score to turn to 14-18. A further converted try from Davis in the 74th minute looked to condemn the Raiders to a pointless afternoon in the rain, but Jack Forrest crossed in the dying seconds. The conversion was declined in favour of possibly grabbing another try before no-side, but Titans got the ball away to touch to complete the win.

 Titans: Kingdom, Struminski, Mason, Fraser, Rice, Webb, Banks, Baker, Davis, Dalton, England, Lugg, Fleming, Frost, Oliphant-Thompson.

Bench: Francis, Wilman, Vakalutukali, Persey, Prior.

Raiders: McIlwaine, Maslen, Richards, Forrest J, Boyland, McLean, Walsh, Head, Gearing-Grief, Litterick, Dingle, Lake, Price, Whittall, Perkins.

Bench: Luke, Gatford, Lee, Dawe, Leeming.

Titans last season…. W20 / L10…. 4th (again)….. 101 points

Another impressive season finishing 4th, behind Cinderford, Chinnor (both promoted) and Rams (112 points).

Titans set off at pace, unbeaten in their first 9 fixtures! Match 10 was at Hyde Park against Henley Hawks, most pundits had it as a home win banker…. (31-42)!!! This result seemed to rock the boat and by match 16 they had lost another 4…..LIWG (45-38), Chinnor (13-7), Cinderford (14-33) and TJ’s (26-20). Promotion prospects by this stage had more or less evaporated. Further defeats were at Redruth (38-22), Rams (31-15), Chinnor (43-56) and Cinderford (41-24). The size of defeat in the last home match of the season (26-66) to Tonbridge Juddians was a surprise to many followers.

Lewis Webb and Freddie Fraser were both involved in 28 of the fixtures. Aron Struminski was top try scorer with 21 from 21 appearances. Ollie Rice was player of the season after 24 appearances and 18 tries. Gary Kingdom was once again top points scorer with 232 from his 22 appearances (he usually plays in every game but missed 8 injured).

Players

A list of many of the players used last season is provided together with further detail as to their credentials. From the Taunton web site so far 13 of the players listed have re-signed:

Kingdom, Rice, Fraser, Webb, Hamilton, Harvey, Vakalutukali, Fleming, Oliphant-Thompson, Prior, Mason, Baker and Dalton. The last 3 named missed a few matches towards the end of last season as they spent the summer in New Zealand playing for Carterton Rugby (near Wellington).

James Kenny and Paul Davis are signed with Exeter Chiefs. Dan Frost has been signed by Cornish Pirates after spending loan time with them last season. Detail on new players is yet to be announced, but according to the Barnstaple RFC web-site their utility back Jason Petherbridge has joined Titans.

(Any further news on new player etc, ahead of the match, will be added as and when known.)

Name (Age)  *played v Raiders Apps 2017-8 Total Join Points Honours Position / Previous Club/s Apps                           *Played v Raiders
Gary Kingdom* (35) 22 220 2010 7T/70C/19P  Devon 1803 points for Titans Full Back: Exeter 121, Launceston 17, Plymouth 28, Bath,

Kingsbridge.  2160 points (career in Nat Leagues)

Aron Struminski*  (25) 21 82 2012 21T Wing: Launceston*25, Exeter ‘A’, Exeter University.
Ollie Rice*  Player of Season 23/1R 24 2017 18T Devon Wing: Honiton, Exmouth* 23
Jack Claydon* (26) 15 112 2011 10T Somerset Wing: Minehead, Cambridge University RL
Nick Mason*25 (c) 21 107 2013 8T Somerset Centre: Taunton Youth
Freddie Fraser* (24) 25/3R 114 2013 5T Centre: Withycombe
Toby East* (26) 19/1R 82 2014 1T/17C/2P Fly Half: Northumbria University
Lewis Webb* (30) 25/3R 113 2014 7T Cornwall Scrum Half: Launceston*133, Penryn 15
Connor Banks* (21) 12/7R 19 2017 1T/3C Devon U20 Scrum Half: Ivybridge
Connor Baker* 19/2R 21 2017 2T LH Prop: Hornets RFC
James Kenny* (19) 7/7R 14 2017 3T England U18 LH Prop: Bicton, Chiefs U18, Exeter College
Isaac Dalton* (25) 23 23 2017 Devon TH Prop: Honiton, Exmouth* 29
Charlie Tribble* 4/10R 25 2016 Prop: Sutton & Epsom, Cardiff RL
Arran Wilman* 3/2R 5 2017 Royal Navy Prop:
Chris Francis* (26) 11/10R 21 2017 4T Somerset Hooker: Filton College, Hornets, Swansea University,

Bridgend 19, Scarlets.

Paul Davis*(24) 8/2R 87 2012 6T England Colleges Hooker/Wing Forward: Torquay, Brixham, Exeter Chiefs,

Exeter University

Andy Hamilton* 9/9R 18 2017 6T Hooker:
Dan Frost*(20) 14/3R 65 2015 10T England U18 Hooker/Wing Forward: Filton, Bath & Chiefs Academy,

Pirates 3.

Blake Lugg* (26) 11/4R 43 2016 Devon Lock: Tiverton
Brett Harvey*(30) 16/7R 108 2012 5T England Colleges Somerset Lock: Sherbourne, Old Patesians 38
Stu Persey* 22/3R 72 2015 2T Devon Lock: Cullompton
Andy England* 13/2R 15 2017 Somerset Lock:
Ratu Vakalutukali
* (29)
16/4R 70 2013 7T Somerset BS Wing Forward: Royal Navy
Jamie Fleming* (30) 19/5R 111 2010 2T OS Wing Forward: Exeter Chiefs 3.
Ben Oliphant- Thompson*(21) 9/6R 25 2016 3T Irish Schools RFC Back Row: Blundells
Sam Prior * (29) 17/9R 113 2011 4T No8: Dorchester, UWIC.

 

This fixture has the makings of an interesting encounter with two sides looking to run the ball at every opportunity. It would be great to see a good number travelling to support the boys in this opening match of the season. Try and make it if you can!!!

 

…..C’MON  RAIDERS !!!!