Taunton Titans, still dazed by last weekend’s 42-31 defeat by Henley in National Two South, are facing three crucial games after next Saturday’s day of rest, writes Barry Knott.
Titans play three top-four sides on successive Saturdays – Redingensians (home, Nov 25), Chinnor (away, Dec 2) and Cinderford (home, Dec 9).
Club spokesman Dick Macey said: “Titans will have to dig deep to stay up with the leaders.”
Referring to the Henley loss, Macey added: “It wasn’t the defeat in itself, although that was painful enough, it was the nature of the loss that was the cause of the anguish. Within a blink of the game kicking off Titans found themselves on the backfoot and that is where they seemed to be throughout.
“Henley’s victory was no fluke as they hammered away at the Titans’ much-vaunted defence and reduced the home side to chasing shadows. The Hawks were far and away the most accomplished side to visit the Commsplus Stadium this campaign, with their half-backs proving unimaginably swift and elusive setting up attacks from everywhere and leaving the Titans’ heavy-footed warriors chasing shadows.
“Added to their fiery resolve was an ability to kick their goals from everywhere.”
Hornets boosted by signing of Gibson
Former Bristol Academy back rower Jack Gibson has joined Hornets and made his debut in the 54-32 home defeat by Newton Abbot in South West Premier last weekend.
Hornets have also welcomed back Sean Disney, who can play at nine or ten. The Weston-super-Mare side went into yesterday’s away match against Bournemouth bottom of the table and player-coach Steve Pape admits it has been “pretty tough”.
But he added: “Things are definitely looking up. It was 25-25 at half- time against Newton Abbot, who are a really good side.
“I think it showed that we can compete at this level. Our problems have mostly been away from home.
“We have been on the end of some bad losses. But last Saturday we showed we can compete and the squad is getting stronger.
“I think we played some of our best rugby of the season against Newton Abbot – it’s just that the scoreline flattered them a bit.”
Next up for Hornets is a home game against mid-table Bracknell on Saturday.
Morrell still positive despite defeat
Bridgwater and Albion head coach Simon Morrell remains in a positive mood despite his side’s narrow defeat at third-placed Launceston in South West One (West) last week.
He expects his squad to become stronger by Christmas and is looking forward to the New Year.
“It was a brilliant game for us and the boys should be feeling pretty positive,” he said. “It was a really tough first half when we were playing into the wind and the home crowd were clearly keen to see their side record a big win.
“Launceston threw everything at us but we showed the commitment and graft that we are after and made life quite difficult for them, which I’m not too sure that they were expecting. If that’s a sign of things to come then I am more than happy.
“We made a couple of mistakes that cost us the game. Against Keynsham the previous week we probably missed five our six chances which happened again at Launceston, when we had three chances and missed out on two of them. It’s a hard lesson to learn but those mistakes have cost us four points.
“Overall though the boys will take heart from the way they played because we know what fixtures we have ahead of us, and even without our full squad we are still within touching distance of fourth place.
“If we can be somewhere near fourth near Christmas, we will have a very strong team out by then and can look forward to a really good second half of the season. The last two weeks have been good for momentum and have been a step-up.”