AFTER a tough, hard-fought fixture last weekend things don’t get any easier for the Titans as they head to high-flying Old Elthamians (2pm ko).

With the hosts being a lot of people’s favourites for promotion this season as well as boasting a new ground and a large playing budget Taunton will need to be at their best to create an upset and keep their faint hopes of pushing those at the top alive.

Old Elthamians have a few familiar faces amongst their squad, including ex-Titans in the form of second row Duncan Hales, back row Ben King, centre Alex Brown and scrum half Oli Claxton.

It was the latter who had the most impact in the last meeting at Hyde Park back in October but not for the best reasons, as it was Oli that was on the receiving end of the Ratu Vakalutukali tackle that saw the Titans man sent off after just 10 seconds.

With the Titans game plan out of the window and reduced to 14 players for the entire game it was inevitable that with the quality of players that OE’s have that they would exploit the space.

This they did and went on to win 14 – 44, the Titans heaviest defeat this season, despite tries from Dan Frost and Arron Gibbs.

Somerset County Gazette: Dan Frost's fine individual performance could not save the Titans from defeat against Barnstaple.

CRUNCH: Taunton Titans flanker Dan Frost in action

The Titans have certainly improved as a squad and as individuals since that day and the team could look a little different this weekend.

With points to prove Taunton will be looking to see how far away they are from the level of the top teams.

With more players coming back from injury and the Warriors continuing with their winning ways competition for places is tough.

Such competition generally brings out the best in players so the Titans will be hoping that this will transfer onto the pitch in the performance on Saturday.

Titans Head Coach Tony Yapp said: “Last Saturday was a day of mixed emotions, as we were disappointed not to win the game but also pleased with the commitment shown by the players.

“We could have performed better in certain areas but it’s hard to criticise too much when everyone gives it their best effort.

“We need to learn our lessons from last weekend and learn them quick as this week it doesn’t get any easier.

“Hopefully the level of commitment will be equal to last Saturday but we’ll need to be a little bit smarter in how we play.”

Forwards Coach Chris Brown added: “Credit to Cinderford for last weekend, they are a good team and club and they deserved the spoils.

“We have an opportunity now to bounce back at Old Elthamians, and what a place to get a result it would be.”

Somerset County Gazette:

PROGRESS: Taunton Colts are in the semi-finals of the County Cup after they beat Minehead on Saturday

Elsewhere, South West Pilot League leaders Taunton Warriors face Old Patenians on Saturday in a top versus bottom encounter at Hyde Park.

Taunton Colts, meanwhile, have progressed to the last four of the Somerset U18 Cup with an excellent win over current U18 league leaders Minehead in their quarter-final at Hyde Park on Saturday.

Both teams seemed unaffected by a slightly delayed kick-off due to a frozen pitch, and contributed to a fast-paced, physical encounter with some excellent rugby being played, befitting two quality sides.

Taunton kept up their relentless pressure with a physical yet skilful game and eventually emerged victorious by a 20-5 scoreline.

Their points came courtesy of two tries from Joe Clark, another from Ed Stock and five points from the boot of Fen Glover.

Taunton have been drawn against Yeovil for their semi-final, which is due to be played at Taunton RFC on Saturday, February 25.