After clinching 2nd place in the Premiership South the Titans faced off at home against the current national champions the Durham Saints. This was the first time the Titans had ever played a premiership play-off game at home with their two previous attempts being away loses to Stirling and Loughborough.
This time on home turf and coming off the back of a convincing win against UWE the Titans were confident. Durham play a very similar style of football to Swansea with a spread offence. This is something that suits Swansea who have a very strong secondary with the likes of Filton graduate corner-back Ben Cooper and American safety Peter Doyle who has 13 years playing experience.
The Titans started strong preventing the inside run and forcing the Durham’s agile QB to scramble, eventually forcing the turnover with a fumble recovery by defensive star Gethyn Chadwick. The Titans offence took to the field and picked up right where they finished against UWE instantly gaining a 20 yard run up the middle through running back Luke Patmore but came up short of punching in the score.
The Defence once again showed why they are the best the South has to offer keeping the Durham QB fairly contained with Todun Soetan and Peter Doyle taking him down while the rest of the Defence prevented any big plays from either their receivers or running backs and forcing the punt.
Rookie Sam Ngombe with his first start of the season showed how he earned that starting spot catching a nice slant and clean bit of footwork making the defender miss and getting the first down. A nice fake punt run QB Elliot Bodman on 4th down kept the offence on the field. This turned into a decisive play as three plays later Bodman hit Dan Marshall on a deep seam for the opening score. PAT no good.
The rain now coming down the ball became very slippery this became a huge problem for the Saints as their QB continually fumbled the ball through successive plays but luckily for them the Saints recovered until finally a fumbled snapped was pounced on by Ike Amuze for a Titan recover inside the Saints RedZone. Another costly Saints error as with their first attempt Luke Patmore did what he does best and ran it straight up the gut barrelling over two Saints in his path to get himself his first Titans career TD. PAT no good, score 12-0.
A bone crunching tackle from Peter Doyle took a Saint RB out of the game the first of two injuries for their team. After consistent yardage Durham got the break through with a on the run thrown TD and a kick to move the score to 12-7. The Titans offence looked like it would instantly strike back after fine running from Patmore and Bodman and a great scramble catch by rookie Will Luck but the slippery ball led to a Titans interception giving Durham another shot at the end-zone. Tackles from corner Harry Calton and penalties against the Saints for a chop block on the man mountain Big Filip Stepanovsky killed their drive. Their next drive however started with a big gain and almost a TD if not for a last-ditch tackle by Safety Daryl Tan. This was all in vein though as the next play the Saints QB punched it in, but a missed field goal made it 13-12. A fumble by Bodman gave the Saints a final shot at a field goal which they made to end the half 16-12.
The Titans got off to the worsts of starts after fumbling on the kick-off return leaving Durham in great field position, but the Swansea D held firm. A touchdown saving joint tackle from Ben cooper and Peter Doyle and then another by Gethyn Chadwick forced the Saints to try to follow in the footsteps of Patmore and try to punch it up the middle from a yard out. Unlike Durham the Swansea Defence pushed back and prevented the touchdown and even better forced and recovered a fumble for a touch back putting the Swansea Offence at the 20. Once again the Titans drove up the field with runs from Bodman and another great grab from Will Luck. Once again at a vital moment the Durham secondary picked off a pass and ended the drive.
After injury to safety Daryl Tan up stepped receiver Dan Marshall to step in at free safety. Although out of position Dan was able to successfully prevent a breakaway outside run from the quick footed Durham QB. After both defences stepped up and kept it a scoreless third quarter a sack by Durham caused a fumble by Bodman. Swansea Defence held firm once again forcing the hail mary from Durham, it was batted down by Marshall but there was a flag on the play, pass interference against safety Ben Cooze put the Saints in Field goal range. Once again, their kicker was on the mark to put the score at 19-12 with less than four minutes left on the clock.
The Titans were against the clock, Durham kicking into the wind gave Swansea great starting position on the half way line. More scramble running from Bodman got the Titans the first down just outside of RedZone territory. Then finally after knocking at the door for the whole half the Saints defence was beaten, a perfectly lofted ball over the top of the defence landed into the hands of team President Luke Wheadon to bring the score to 19-18. The two-point conversion a sliding catch in the corner to put the Titans back in the lead. Durham had 2 minutes left on the clock to score but the Titans defence shut them out. It looked all over the Titans offence had used timeout management and looked like they would leave Durham with less the 5 seconds to score from in their own half. This was looking the case until an injury to center Ed Welch stopped the clock giving Durham an extra 30 seconds. The Titans defence were unable to stop a long outside run from Durham putting the ball in field goal range with 3 seconds left on the clock.
The Saints kicker had been on form all day, thankfully for the Titans the wind had started to pick up and Durham were kicking into it. The ball was snapped, the kicker connected and bang it hits the crossbar. A flag on the play, offside Swansea, Durham get another shot. Once again, its snapped and the kicker connects, this time the Swansea weather does its part and blows the ball wide left. Swansea Win.
The Titans progress to the National Semi-final against the Hertfordshire Hurricanes on the 17/3/19 at Llandarcy Academy of Sport.
Offence: Elliot Bodman
Defence: Ben Cooper
Rookie: Piers Jensen