Rams RFC director of rugby Seb Reynolds hailed a ‘fantastic spectacle’ as his team fought off Taunton Titans to take a bonus point win in a thrilling 41-35 encounter.
A fast start from the visitors saw them race into a 19-0 first-quarter lead on the back of tries from Zach Clow, Max Hayman and star man Ben Atkins, Fraser Honey adding two conversions just three days after the birth of his first son.
Titans replied as the electric Noah Fenton dashed over on the left, impressive young Exeter Chief loanee fly-half Louie Sinclair adding the extras.
Rams wrapped up the bonus-point before the break as Drew Humberstone crashed over from close range, but Taunton cut the gap to 24-21 as Sam Leworthy went over and Fenton doubled his tally, Sinclair with two more kicks.
Two more maul tries from the visitors, scored by skipper Robbie Stapley and debutant Calum Scott, both added to by Honey, extended the lead to 17 points, but another cracker from hat-trick hero Fenton kept Titans in the hint.
Sinclair kept up his perfect record before Honey kicked a penalty for 41-28, only for the hosts to grab a converted try from Greg Kitson almost immediately from the restart.
Connor Hayhow looked like he might have sealed things with an interception, only to be hunted down just short of the line.
Rams had to stay on their mettle as the hosts launched one last attack from under their own posts, a key Ant Marris tackle and Jak Rossiter turnover on halfway eventually putting the game to bed.
At the end of an 80 minutes which veered wildly at times, Reynolds said: “Credit to Taunton, at times they played some very good rugby and with the style they play, it produced the scoreline it did.
“It’s what you get at this level, we came here having not lost, they hadn’t won, so at points they had nothing to lose, and it made for a fantastic spectacle.
“We had a few changes before the start and then some positional ones which required different things from people.
“We lost Connor Stapley in the second half which meant Dan Swain had to call the line-out with Calum (Scott) throwing, Rossy (Crame) jumping, and these are all newish things so we had to manage what was going on.
“At some point it would be nice to find a way to have a comfortable game down here, but they’re a brilliant team who we have a lot of respect for, we’ve come here for many years and it’s always good.”
Two key features of the away win were the brilliance at the breakdown, Rams secured numerous penalties, and the ruthlessly efficient maul which accounted for four tries directly and Humberstone’s from close range.
Reynolds continued: “(The maul) was something we wanted to work on and it’s important to have a balance – we want to be a team which can play in different ways and offer different things at different times.
“It means there’s always scope for improvement, and as the winter months close in it’s good to have it there and (forwards coach) Owen (Root) and the players have done a great job.
“The back row was superb, the combination of Ben (Atkins) and Vinny (Everitt) as out-and-out jackalers caused some problems at the breakdown for Taunton and created some nice opportunities on the turnover.”
Victory was Rams’ fifth in a row to start the campaign, but as Jak Rossiter admitted on BBC Berkshire’s Weekend Kick-Off show, there is a belief performances can still get better.
Reynolds confirmed this as he continued: “We’re always looking for improvement and it’s just a start – the main thing is we’ll look at the game and see lots of things we can work on.
“We got a win, had some young players in and the competition for places has gone up – our selections become even harder for what is a difficult Bishop’s Stortford side at home on Saturday (3pm).”
Supporters are asked to pre-book tickets via the ramsrugby.com website to ensure quick and easy access to the ground.