Essex suffered a second successive defeat in the Vitality Blast after going down by 11 runs to Somerset at sunny Taunton.

The hosts boasted a perfect five-win record going into the contest, while Essex had started their delayed campaign with back-to-back victories before enduring a heavy home loss againsts holders Hampshire on Friday.

And the visitors made three changes to their line-up, with Michael Pepper making his first appearance of the campaign after topping the Essex Blast run charts with 439 last year.

Captain Simon Harmer chose to bowl after winning the toss, but Sam Cook's opening delivery was driven down the ground by Tom Lammonby, who pulled the fifth ball past a diving Paul Walter at mid-on.

Lammonby edged Daniel Sams away for a third boundary, but there were five dot balls in the Australian's over, before Ben Allison's second delivery was swatted down the ground by the left-hander who continued to see most of the strike.

Allison was carted over Cow Corner by Lammonby for the first six of the match, but Shane Snater struck with his second ball as Will Smeed clipped the ball to Sams at deep square leg.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore hit the last two balls from Snater's over for four and six, straight down the ground, to make it 34-1, then top-edged Cook to the boundary, before Lammonby leant into a cover drive for another four at the end of the fifth over.

Lammonby spanked Sams out of the ground in the sixth over, but was bowled very next ball as the hosts ended the powerplay on 52-2.

And Harmer claimed a stunning, diving, juggling catch off his own bowling to get rid of Kohler-Cadmore in the next over, as the hosts added just four more runs to their total.

Matt Critchley came into the attack and struck with his second delivery as Tom Abell picked out Allison in the deep, with Somerset 73-4 at the halfway stage.

Harmer was hit for six by Sean Dickson, who reverse pulled Critchley for four in his next over, but Essex managed to keep the boundary count largely under control.

A top edge by Lewis Gregory was spilled and ran away to the rope as the hosts brought up three figures at the end of their 13th over, but the home captain hit Allison to Harmer at long-off moments later to give Essex another lift.

Cook bowled Ben Green all ends up in the 15th over, which yielded only four more singles, but Dickson hit Snater for six and four from successive balls as Somerset produced their best over of the innings to that point.

Harmer (2-26) tempted Dickson to hit down the ground and pick out Paul Walter at long-on and fall for 42, robbing Somerset of momentum once again.

And Sams took a steepling running catch off his own bowling, over his shoulder, to send Roelof van der Merwe packing as Somerset ended the 18th over on 132-8.

Matt Henry clubbed Cook away for six as the penultimate over added 14 to the total, but Sams then saw him slash at a wide delivery and offer a simple catch to Tom Westley, before Craig Overton hit the last ball of the innings to Harmer as Somerset were all out for 150.

Sams finished with a superb 4-20 haul to leave Essex buoyant at the break, with Adam Rossington hitting Craig Overton's second ball down the ground to get their run chase underway and Robin Das sending the final delivery to the boundary as well.

Rossington hit Matt Henry to Lammonby at deep square leg as the second over produced only two runs, but Das hit Overton behind square, to third man and through point for a trio of boundaries to leave Essex 23-1.

However, Das edged Henry to Smeed at gully without addition to his tally, after a single from Michael Pepper, to give the hosts further encouragement with a second scalp.

Pepper top edged Overton for six, then bashed the next ball down the ground for four, and after avoiding a bouncer clubbed the fifth delivery of the fifth over over long-on for another six to make it 46-2.

But Henry kept things tight at the other end as Essex added just three more runs to their total before the end of the powerplay, before Peter Siddle came into the attack against his former club and conceded just a single, while enticing Critchley to top edge to van der Merwe in the deep.

Pepper reverse swatted Gregory away for a much-needed four in the eighth over and was dropped off the next ball, which led to two more runs.

And he made the most of that reprieve to scoop Siddle for six over fine leg, then pull the Aussie to the leg side boundary for four two balls later.

Paul Walter hit Ben Green's second delivery high into the air for Abell to take a diving catch in the 10th over, though, as Essex reached 77-4 at the halfway stage.

Pepper brought up his half-century from 31 balls as van der Merwe came into the attack, then pulled Green to the boundary as the visitors moved to 92-4.

Westley was bowled by van der Merwe, after Pepper had reverse hit a full toss for four, to make it 97-5, with Pepper caught behind by Kohler-Cadmore at the start of the slow left armer's next over to make it 105-5.

Sams survived a run out attempt, before Harmer produced a stunning switch hit for six to leave Essex needing 37 off 30 balls, with six more runs taken from Green's third over.

Essex were struggling to find the boundary at the business end of proceedings, with Harmer bowled by Henry and Sams caught in the deep.

And after Allison was caught by Henry off Green, leaving Essex to score 13 from the last over, a horrible mix-up between Snater and Cook led to a run out and 11-run defeat.