Peter Gavin previews Taunton Titans v Worthing Raiders


Taunton Titans v Worthing Raiders

7th October 2017 kick off 3pm

This Saturday Raiders travel to Somerset to take on Taunton Titans who are presently riding high in the table, second spot just behind Cinderford on points difference. This will be the seventh time Raiders have visited Hyde Park to take on the Titans in a National League Division 2 (South) fixture.

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 known as Hyde Park (Rugby ground, Conference and Banqueting centre) in 2001, having played at Priory Park for the previous 66 years.

The club emerged through the South West leagues going unbeaten in 2008-9, gaining back- to-back promotions to National 2 South in 2010. Titans have links with Exeter Chiefs. In previous seasons they may have called upon players from Exeter University, although this connection is not so prevalent now as the University ‘Saturday’ team is presently unbeaten in South West 1 (West) (L6).

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 home to 40 Commando Royal Marines. The area and the town is well known for Cider.

King’s College a co-educational, secondary day and boarding school is situated in the town and has a fine sporting and academic reputation.

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  W73-T 5       W 3rd  T 11th

2012/13:  T 40-W 57  W 68-T 0      W 2nd   T 9th  Worthing promoted

2014/15:  T 30-W 17  W 27-T 29    W 5th  T 3rd

2015/16:  T30 W 12   W 27-T 23    W 11th T 4th

2016/17:  T 59-W 19   W 36-T 33   W 12th  T 4th

5th November 2016 Titans 59 Raiders 19

In the matches immediately prior to our visit Titans had lost to Clifton (30-32) and to Bishop’s Stortford (50-21). We felt the full brunt of the backlash! Nine tries dotted down throughout the game (3 in the first half), although Raiders, through Finlay Coxon-Smith, did get the opening score! Titans’ powerful winger Aron Struminski scored a hat trick, with Gary Kingdom adding 7 conversions. Alex Wilcockson, playing against his former club, was injured, leaving the field in the 17th minute.

Titans: Kingdom, Struminski, Mason, Fraser, Bright, Webb, Massey-Birch, Rhodes, Gatford, Caulfield, Lugg, Lonsdale, Persey, Frost, Prior.

Reps: Spurdle, Claydon, Oliphant-Thompson, Harbison, Pratten.

Raiders: McLean, Coxon-Smith, Wilcockson, Richards, Nielsen, Montgomery, Leeming, Gatford, Harris, Sargent, White, Lake, Short, Whittall, Perkins.

Reps: Watson-Brooks, Burns J, Double, Peach, Niessen.

 4th March 2017 Raiders 36 Titans 33

Raiders thoroughly deserved their win against a strong Titans team who were standing in 4th spot on 81 points.  Raiders were in the relegation zone, 15th spot on 34 points. The home team opened brightly as usual, but this time made the pressure count with Ben Loosmore crossing in the 4th minute, Matt McLean adding the conversion. Whilst Dan Frost scored for Titans in the 10th minute to level matters, the Titans didn’t trouble the score board again until the 60th minute by which time Raiders were leading 28-7. A try in the 71st minute from Harry Forrest and a penalty from Matt McLean sealed the win despite tries from the Titans in the 79th and 80th minute. The faithful went home happy!!

Raiders: Forrest H, Coxon-Smith, Richards, Loosmore, Irving, McLean, Leeming, Storer, Watson-Brooks, Sargent, Barlow, Lake, Lamb, Hewick, Perkins.

Reps: Harris, Finney, Whittall, Boyland, Dobson.

Titans: Kingdom, Massey-Birch, Mason, Popham, Fraser, East, Webb, Chase, Spurdle, Claydon T, Persey, Lonsdale, Gibbs, Frost, Prior.

Reps: Gatford, Tribble, Lugg, Harbison, Siddle.

Titans last season…. W19 D3…. 4th…… 105 pts

Another impressive season finishing behind Chinnor who accumulated 122 points. A win at promoted Old Elthamians (16-22) stands out, but the defeat and a draw against Barnstaple (22-19 and 31 apiece) and the home loss to Clifton (30-32) also stand out, but in the other direction! Gary Kingdom featured in all 30 matches gathering another 291 points to add to his substantial collection. Stu Persey (lock) featured in 29, with half-back Lewis Webb involved in 28. Back-row forward Dan Frost scored 18 tries from his 27 appearances with Freddie Fraser and Nick Mason getting 12 apiece. Aron Struminski grabbed 11 from 13 appearances.

Titans so far this season………P5 W5….. 25pts

Early days, but Titans are sitting pretty in 2nd spot, behind Cinderford on points difference (+156 to +139). Chinnor are on their tails in 3rd with 23points. Titans 100% record has involved Broadstreet (41-21), Old Redcliffians (10-48), Barnstaple (52-3), Wimbledon (27-42) and last week Redruth (34-17). Wimbledon managed a try scoring bonus point. Barnstaple arrived on a high having lowered the colours of Redruth (29-24) the previous week! Messrs Struminski, Rice, Webb, Dalton, Vakalutukali, and Frost have featured every week so far, with Gary Kingdom leading the point scorers with 65 despite missing the Wimbledon fixture.


As usual a list of the players used so far is provided below along with a little detail as to their credentials. Quite a number of regulars appear along with a few new faces as well as a trio who represented Exmouth last season. As mentioned above, the link with Exeter University players has not happened this year.


A visit to Somerset is always an interesting experience and a welcome awaits the Raiders travelling faithful. The players are especially grateful for the touchline support.


Another tough encounter awaits!…..C’Mon Raiders!!!!

Name (Age)  *played v Raiders Apps 2017-8 Total Join Pts Honours Position / Prev Club/s Apps                                 

*Played v Raiders

Gary Kingdom* (35) 4 202 2010 3T/6P/16C  Devon   1636pts for Titans Full Back/Fly Half: Exeter 121, Launceston 17,

Plymouth 28, Bath, Kingsbridge. 1993 pts (career

in Nat Leagues)

Aron Struminski * (25) 5 66 2012 8T Wing: Launceston*25, Exeter ‘A’, Exeter University
Ollie Rice 5 5 2017 4T Devon Wing: Honiton, Exmouth* 23
Nick Mason*24(c) 2 93 2013 Somerset Full Back/Centre/Fly Half: Taunton Youth
Rob Allen 4 4 2017 1T Centre: Bridgwater* 100+
Freddie Fraser* (23) 4 91 2013 Centre: Withycombe
Tom Popham* (26) 1/1R 110 2010 Somerset Centre: Exeter ‘A’
Toby East* (25) 1/1R 64 2014 1T Fly Half: Northumbria University
Kieran Hill 1/1R 2017 1C1P Somerset Fly Half: Clevedon
Lewis Webb* (29) 4/1R 90 2014 2T Cornwall Fly Half/Scrum Half: Launceston*133, Penryn 15
Conor Littlewood 3/1R 4 2017 1C Somerset Scrum Half: Hornets RFC
Connor Baker 3 3 2017 LH Prop Hornets RFC
James Kenny(18) 2 2 2017 1T England U18 LH Prop: Bicton, Chiefs U18, Exeter College
Isaac Dalton (24) 5 5 2017 Devon TH Prop: Honiton, Exmouth* 29
Charlie Tribble* 0/4R 14 2016 Prop: Sutton & Epsom, Cardiff RL
Arran Wilman 0/1R 1 2017 Prop:
Chris Francis (25) 4 4 2017 1T Somerset Hooker: Filton College, Hornets, Swansea

University, Bridgend 19, Scarlets.

Alex Spurdle*-24 1/2R 82 2013 England Colls Hooker: Exeter ‘A’, Exmouth, Axminster.
Andy Hamilton 0/3R 3 2017 1T Hooker:
Blake Lugg* (25) 0/1R 29 2016 Devon Lock: Tiverton
Brett Harvey* (29) 1/1R 87 2012 2T England Colls Somerset (c) Lock: Sherborne, Old Patesians 38
Barrie-John Chapman* (32) 3 24 2015/16 2017 Lock: Launceston* 81, Canterbury 9, Redruth* 17
Stu Persey* 3 50 2015 Devon Lock: Cullompton
Milo Reynolds 24 3 3 2017 Gloucestershire Lock: Cinderford 42, Exmouth* 22
Ratu Vakalutukali
* (28)
4/1R 55 2013 1T Somerset OS Wing Forward: Royal Navy
Dan Frost*(20) 4/1R 53 2015 4T England U18 Wing Forward: Filton, Bath & Chiefs’ Academy
Jamie Fleming* 29 1/3R 91 2010 No8: Exeter Chiefs 3.
Charlie Walker-Blair (29) 3/1R 39 2009/11 2014 1T Wing Forward/No8: Pirates 9, Chiefs, Jersey 5.
Sam Prior * (29) 4 91 2011 2T No8: Dorchester, UWIC.
Ben Oliphant- Thompson* (20) 0/1R 10 2016 ISRFC No8: Blundells