TAUNTON Titans head coach Tony Yapp has likened his players to “caged animals”, such is their eagerness to begin the new National 2 South season this weekend.

The Titans welcome newly-promoted Bournemouth to the renamed Towergate Stadium on Saturday (3pm) having concluded their pre-season programme with a 51-38 win over Ivybridge last weekend, new winger Jack Arnott scoring four tries.

“It was a mixed bag - we were very good in attack but defensively there is a lot to work on this week,” Yapp said.

“I think we are shaping up well. We won at Cardiff Met, a tough place to go, and the new players are settling in nicely.

“Jack Arnott showed what he will bring with his tries last weekend, Dan Lee’s quality speaks for itself and James Tait is improving all the time at nine.

“The close season has gone quickly but the players are like caged animals, they can’t wait to start playing competitively.”

Recent seasons have followed a similar pattern for Taunton, who have often started well and threatened the promotion places before finishing up in fourth or fifth.

On their prospects this time around, Yapp said: “Our ambition is to finish in the top two and improve on where we were last year.

“It will be far from easy and we have lost a couple of important players - Jarrard Hayler, probably our best player last season, is away with the Navy all year.

“But if we can keep everyone fit, I am confident we will be in the mix.

“We have two home games first up, which gives us a good chance to set our stall out and start strongly.

"Bournemouth have the momentum from being promoted and in [former Titan] Mike Pope they have a player I know very well.

"We are expecting a good test from them but I think we are ready."

As for the other likely contenders, Yapp said: "Tonbridge Juddians are getting better every year and Henley are looking like gelling nicely.

"Esher have been relegated and will be looking to bounce back. It's tough to know at this stage but it will be a competitive division."

Taunton Titans team to face Bournemouth: 1. Alex Rodd; 2. Alex Spurdle; 3. Isaac Dalton; 4. Chris Courtier; 5. Cory Teague; 6. Charlie Williams; 7. Brett Harvey; 8. Dan Lee; 9. James Tait; 10. Gary Kingdom; 11. Jack Arnott; 12. Tom Popham; 13. Nick Mason; 14. Freddie Fraser; 15. Oli Down. Replacements: Chris Francis, Aaron Wilman, Barry Chapman, Julian Salvi, Aron Struminski

Wellington and Wiveliscombe begin their respective Western Counties (West) seasons this Saturday.

Wellington, who narrowly missed out on promotion last season, travel to Chard.

Wivey, who came up from Somerset Premier last time out, begin at Bideford.