Taunton Tigers produced an impressive display to defeat Cardiff 76 – 66 in their final pre-season match last weekend. The Tigers, recently promoted to the National League Division Two, started brightly against the third division favourites, opening up a 19 – 12 lead in the first quarter. Dan Howe was rewarded with starting berth following his performances against Leicester last weekend and the basketball magician conjured up six early points to justify his inclusion.
The second quarter saw Cardiff turn the game on its head. Tigers' head coach Ronnie Heath rotated his bench but failed to find the effective balance in his groupings. Defensive confusion and lack of leadership were exposed by Cardiff who went on to score 31 points in the quarter to go in 44 – 33 up at the half. The wounded Tigers came out more aggressive in the second half with Graham Jones and Matthew Nolan sharing MVP honours and leading at both ends of the court. The duo have been leading the pre-season fitness challenges and their obvious energy was demonstrated particularly on the fast-break where Taunton started to achieve considerable gains.
By the end of the third quarter Richard Anderson had reoganised the Tigers' defence restricting Cardiff to low percentage efforts. At the other end he continued his impressive pre-season scoring regularly with strong inside moves. By the forth quarter the Tigers had stretched to a comfortable ten-point lead and eased home for a 76 – 66 win. The result will encourage the fans but Heath and his players will have to work hard to cover the cracks before their National Cup first round game against Cornwall on September 30th.