Gary Kingdom has admitted Taunton Titans’ ambition has always been to reach the top two in National Two South, but he is more than aware it is still early days in the campaign. Photo Credit: (Clayton Jane Photography)
The Somerset club currently sit two points clear at the top of the division as the race for a promotion spot continues to intensify.
Tonbridge Juddians, Henley Hawks, Clifton and Leicester Lions are all in the mix as things stand and after a few weeks of jostling for pole position, it is Tony Yapp’s side who sit top of the pile heading into the final weekend of November.
This is not an unfamiliar scenario for the Titans, though. Taunton have found themselves in the frame for promotion at this stage of the season before, but a dip in form in and around the Christmas period has cost them a place in the top two.
But despite falling short, Kingdom insists Taunton’s aims have never wavered as a club.
"Undoubtedly, the drenching the country has been subjected over the past few weeks can be attributed the blame for the different style of rugby being played, having reduced many pitches to near-quagmire status."https://t.co/m4uhZbAZT5
— Somerset Sport (@SportSomerset) November 27, 2019
“Our ambition has always been there and I think it has got to be,” Taunton’s versatile back told ncarugby.com.
“Yes, we might be top now, but it doesn’t mean anything at this time in the season. There’s not much point just swimming along and saying we are quite happy being mid-table, though. We’ve got a great set-up and I think we have just got to try and do that justice.
“We have got the infrastructure now. That’s been the main focus over the last 10 years I have been here. It has been about laying a foundation within the club that if we do get promoted, we have got the sustainability to carry it on. It has been great to be involved with! That’s why I am still going! It is thoroughly enjoyable.”
Kingdom may well have been part of the Taunton set-up for the last decade, but his experience and ability on the field has continued to be of the highest standard.
The former Exeter Chief highlighted this in last Saturday’s 22-15 win over Bury St Edmunds as Kingdom scored all of Taunton’s points to keep them at the summit of the division, but he admitted it wasn’t one of his standout displays in the maroon and black jersey.
“I am not sure about that to be honest!” he added. “I think I was just the one that ended up getting the points. It is just one of those games I think when it ended up being grinded out with kicks more than anything else.
“You do have to change the mindset a little bit when the weather conditions change like they did on Saturday. I think we have been quite reliant on a wider game and I think we came unstuck earlier on in the season against Esher (a 10-8 loss) in tough conditions.
— NCA Rugby (@nca_rugby) November 26, 2019
“On reflection, we could have taken more points when they were on offer, but it is just about reacting to what is happening in front of you.”
Next up for Taunton is a trip to Leicester Lions, which will be another National League ground for Kingdom to tick off after surpassing 2,000 points scored for the Titans earlier this term.
The Lions currently sit fifth in the table and the Midlands outfit are just seven points off the top two heading into Round 13.
Kingdom says the current squad depth has been a massive factor behind Taunton’s success so far and he knows everyone will have to play their part if they are to continue their level of performance heading into 2020.
He added: “We are not the most financially big club. We have got to find other ways and included in that is we have got to look at how well we are coached and how well we can bring through the younger players around the area and offer them something a little bit different.
“People are always quite surprised when we talk to them and say our 2nds and our 1sts are one squad, who train together all of the time. Having 40 guys out training on a Tuesday and a Thursday makes a massive difference.
“To be honest, we have got some great young players and if they need any help, then I am there to offer it but they just crack on with it! You know what the younger lads are like nowadays!
“We’re all looking forward to this weekend [ v Leicester Lions] as it is a big game. That’s the one thing we thrive on at the minute as well are these big games and being ready to win when they come along.
“We played our last home of the year on Saturday and now we have got four away games on the bounce so that will be really tough so we need to focus on that and hopefully we can have an enjoyable weekend over Christmas.”