Taunton Titans’ downturn in form over the last couple of months obviously disappointed Tony Yapp, but the Head Coach believes there are a couple of reasons why the Somerset club have not been firing on all cylinders.

The Titans head into the New Year having picked just two victories from their last seven matches in National Two South, which leaves them fourth in the table.

Yapp’s side had won their first nine matches of the campaign which saw them top the division in late October, but the men from the Commsplus Stadium have had a dip in form which has seen their possible promotion hopes dashed for another year.

And after 16 rounds of action in National Two South, Yapp insists a lack of leadership and some absentees have played a part in Taunton’s recent blip.

“We got off to a really good start,” Yapp told ncarugby.com. “We had a good pre-season and worked really hard which helped us win our first nine games on the bounce.

“I don’t think the ‘wheels have come off’ but we have lost a few games and that knocked our momentum.

“The run started against Henley and then we lost against London Irish Wild Geese. We took on Chinnor which was always going to be tough before facing Cinderford.

“I think they [Cinderford] are the best team we have played this year. That was the game where we felt we were well beaten. We also played Tonbridge and it was tough to lose in the last play of the game.

“I think also missing Gary Kingdom has been key. People who follow this division will know he can win a game by a fine margin and it could have been us on the right end of a couple of those results. Dan Frost as also been away with the Cornish Pirates.

“I think if we were to get some of the Taunton players back off loan and some who are injured, then we would be in a stronger position. That is obvious!

“At the moment, we have got a lot of young players and they are ambitious, but we probably lack at little bit of leadership and experience through this stage in the season.”

It is the fourth campaign on the spin that Taunton have failed to maintain a strong start to the campaign, but this year it seems as though it has cost them any chance of breaking into the promotion places after four successive top five finishes.

The Titans sit 17 points off the the top two with four months of the season to go and Yapp believes any hopes of challenging for a National One spot are now over despite Taunton winning their last match against Old Redcliffians.

He added: “We just have to roll our sleeves up and get on with it. I think the top two spots are now gone.

“I think Chinnor and Cinderford are both playing well enough to hold on to their positions and they would take some catching.

“From our point of view, we have also said that as long as we are a better team than we were the previous year than that is good enough for me. If that is the case, then we will keep moving forward.

“At some stage we do need to take that step though, but we won’t put the club under financial strain to do so.

“We have a young squad at the moment. It is about getting them up to speed and getting them more experienced so we can keep on developing.”