Peter Gavin previews Taunton Titans v Worthing Raiders


Taunton Titans v Worthing Raiders

4th January 2020

Kick off 3pm

For the first match of the new decade Raiders hit the road heading south west to Somerset to take on Taunton Titans. An interesting fixture to follow the festive season with Titans in third spot vying for promotion. The Somerset side visited Roundstone Lane in September, for the 3rd fixture of the season. In a scintillating encounter they eventually took the spoils 42-46.

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 re-named Towergate 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 700AD) 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 and have links with Exeter Chiefs.

The club run 3 senior sides and a Colts. Youth and mini rugby take over on Sundays.

 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 Worthing 8th   Taunton 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    T 9th  W 2nd (promoted)
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
2018/19  T 62 – W 24 W 66 – T 31 W 9th     T 5th
2019/20  W 42 – T 46    

(Raiders edge it 9-8)

21st September 2019 Worthing Raiders 42 Taunton Titans 46

Both sides unbeaten after 2 fixtures, although Titans were on 10 points to Raiders 9. The decent crowd of 600+ were looking for an entertaining close encounter with Raiders optimistic faithful looking for a W. It was certainly entertaining and close! The visitors were off the bus flying, with 2 tries in the first 6 minutes (0-12), but patience paid off for the home side with oranges at 21-22. Raiders edged into the lead in the 49th minute (28-22) and regular alternating scores almost every 5 minutes seemed that Raiders would edge it, but eventually Tom Popham’s unconverted try in the 75th minute sealed the win for the visitors. (6 tries to 7) Phew!

Raiders: Anscombe, Forrest H, Forrest J, Gwyther, Waters, McLean, Boyland, Birch, Luke, Litterick, Barlow, Lee, Whittall, Grief, Richards,

Bench: Gibson, Adams, Fowler, Maguire, McIlwaine.

Scorers: T: Waters x 2 (10m & 49m), Richards (28m), Forrest J x2 (38m & 66m), Forrest H (57m)

C: McLean x 6.

Titans: Down, Arnott, Mason, Popham, Fraser, Kingdom, Tait, Rodd, Spurdle, Dalton, Courtier, Chapman, Williams, Harvey, Lee.

Bench: Gosling, Baker C, England, Oliphant-Thompson, Baker R.

Scorers: T: Tait (1m), Kingdom (6m), Down x 2 (24m &62m), Williams (52m), Dalton (69m), Popham (75m)

C: Kingdom x 4

P: Kingdom x1 (18m).

Titans last season…. W19 L11…. 5th ……. 100 points…….Raiders 9th 68 points

Another good season, finishing well clear of 6th placed Clifton, 70 points, but a little behind 4th placed Henley Hawks, 120 points.

They were in the upper reaches of the table all season, but 7 of their 11 defeats were against the other promotion contenders. RAMS (Champions), TJs & Henley beating them home and away. Honours were even with play-off winners, Canterbury, the spoils going with the home team in tight encounters (23-22 & 26-24). The other defeats were on the road: Redruth (29-27), Barnes (51-38), Old Reds (22-17) and Raiders.

Lewis Webb once again topped the appearances league this season featuring in all 30 fixtures. Nick Mason was top try scorer with 16. Gary Kingdom was once again top points scorer with 176 from 25 appearances. Titans used 50 different players in the course of the season.

The season….so far P16 W12…..61 points (3rd behind Hawks 65 points & TJs 67 points)…..Raiders 7th 47 points

Titans have been jostling with Hawks and TJs all season, getting their noses in front a couple of times, but last week they suffered a set-back against a determined Redruth (26-20). Always a difficult place to visit, with Titans staging a comeback in the 2nd half after trailing 19-0 at HT. Titans other defeats were all on the road: Leicester Lions (12-6), Esher (10-8), TJ’s (68-31). As usual Gary Kingdom leads the points scoring with 160. Winger Jack Arnott leads the way with 11 tries, prop forward Isaac Dalton is hot on his heels with 10.


As usual a list of the players used in the last fixture, against Redruth, is provided along with a little more detail on other players used in recent fixtures. Many of the players listed have lined up against Raiders in previous encounters.

Sam Baker (fly-half) who joined from Cinderford towards the end of last season has been involved in the last few games, with Toby East (centre/scrum-half) also returning to the side. Youngster Greg Kitson (wing), not long out of Blundell’s, has featured in 8 recent matches. Royal Navy back-row Declan Johnson (back-row) made his debut last week off the bench.

Lock forward Cory Teague from the Chiefs Academy has played a few matches, along-side regular partner in the boiler house B-J Chapman but both missed last week’s trip to Redruth.

Once again this fixture has the makings of another classic encounter, with Titans no doubt keen to put the woes of Redruth behind them and to keep up their record at Towergate. Raiders on the other hand have recently put together several very respectable performances. It will be fascinating to see how the sides fare, especially after the Festive break.

This fixture, against one of our longest standing league opponents, nearly always provides fantastic entertainment with great skills and often tries to savour.

There is always a welcome to visiting supporters down in Somerset and it would be good to shake of the Christmas and New Year festivities to be the 16th ‘player’ on the touch line cheering on the Raiders. If you can make the trip your encouragement and support is much appreciated by the players.


In any event a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to all……..


…..C’Mon Raiders!!!!

Name/Age     *played v Raiders   21st Sept 2019 Apps 2019-20 Total Join Points Honours Position / Prev Club/s Apps      *Played v Raiders
Gary Kingdom* (37) 16 262 2010 3T/47 C /17P  Devon Full Back: Exeter 128, Launceston 17, Plymouth 31, Bath, Kingsbridge.
Jack Arnott*(26) 14 14 2019 11T England U20s

(3)- 2013

Wing: Chiefs 8, Plymouth Albion 81, Pirates 30
Nick Mason* (26) Capt 12 147 2013 Somerset Centre: Taunton Youth
Toby East (27) 2 101 2014 2T   Centre: Northumbria University
Greg Kitson (19) 7/2R 9 2019 2T   Wing: Blundells
Sam Baker (25) 2/1R 9 2019   Fly Half: Cinderford 20
Lewis Webb (31) 13/1R 157 2014 1T Cornwall Scrum Half: Launceston*133, Penryn 15
Alex Rodd* (22) 7/3R 15 2019   LH Prop: Crediton
George Gosling* (24) 9/5R 19 2014 1T   Hooker: Exeter University
Isaac Dalton* (27) 16 44 2017 10T Devon TH Prop: Honiton, Exmouth* 29
Stuart Persey (27) 9 ? 2015     Lock: Cullompton
Daniel Ogden (23) 2/4R 40 2014 Somerset Lock: Hornets
Ben Oliphant- Thompson*(21) 13 65 2016 1T   BS Wing Forward: Blundells
Ratu Vakalutukali (30) 4/2R 93 2013 1T Somerset OS Wing Forward: Royal Navy
Dan Lee* (26) 14 89 2013 No 8: Plymouth 3, Launceston 3, Pirates 58
Alex Spurdle* (26) 6/6R 116 2013 1T England Colls Hooker: Exeter ‘A’, Exmouth, Axminster
Gary Carpenter (29) 0/7R 7 2019 2T   LH Prop: Clevedon
Declan Johnson (27) 0/1R 1 2019 Royal Navy Wing Forward:
Brett Harvey* (32) 9/4R 128 2012 2T England Colleges Somerset c OS Wing Forward: Sherbourne, Old Patesians 38
James Tait*(19) 10/4R 14 2019 1T   Scrum Half: Chiefs U18 Academy, Plymouth Albion 11
Played Recently Last Played  
Oli Down*(22) 9/1R 10 2019 4T 14th Dec Full Back: Crediton
Barrie-John Chapman* (35) 12/3R 55 2015 2017 2T 14th Dec


Lock: Launceston*91, Canterbury 9, Redruth*17
Cory Teague(20) 5 21 2018 1T 14th Dec

Cornwall U20

Lock: Wadebridge Camels, Chiefs Academy
Charlie Williams* (22) 12 12 2018 5T 7th Dec Lock:
Connor Baker* (23) 9/3R 55 2017 7th Dec LH Prop: Hornets RFC
Tom Popham* (28) 9 127 2010 3T 30th Nov


Centre: Exeter ‘A’
Chris Francis* (27) 1/5R 52 2017 2T 23rd Nov


Hooker: Filton College, Hornets, Swansea University, Bridgend 19, Scarlets.
Freddie Fraser* (25) 6/1R 146 2013 1T 23rd Nov Centre: Withycombe
Julian Salvi (34) 4 10 2018 2T 9th Nov

Australia ‘A’

BS Wing Forward: Brumbies 64, Bath 29, Leicester Tigers 113, Exeter Chiefs 52