Barnstaple look to pick off Taunton Titans as National League Two South campaign resumes

Picture: Bob Collins
Picture: Bob Collins

Barum were on the wrong end of a 50-point drubbing when the sides met earlier in the season

Barnstaple get back to business in National League Two South with a home game against Taunton Titans on Saturday.

Barum were on the receiving end of a 50-point drubbing when the sides met at Hyde Park earlier in the season – which brought them down to earth after victories over Redruth and Wimbledon to open the campaign.

Taunton have had their wings clipped since that meeting though, losing three on the trot before recovering to beat relegation worriers Old Reds in the final game before Christmas.

Titans remain fifth in the table, six places and 33 points ahead of Barnstaple.

Barum may appear to be second favourites to win the fixture, but director of rugby Jeremy Chugg has other ideas.

Chugg has mapped out a plan for the second half of the season and beating teams like Taunton is part of it.

“We are 18 points clear of the relegation places, which gives us a bit of security but nothing more than that yet,” said Chugg.

“What we want to do over the rest of the season is make sure we beat all the sides below us when we run into then – and pinch a few results against top-five sides.

“At home, with the support we get, we are capable of beating most sides in this division.

“If we can win the games we are targeting then we ought to be in a position where we are comfortably safe with three or four games to go.”

Barum spent most of last season, their first at level four, battling to get away from the wrong end of the table, which they did in the final month of the campaign.

Chugg said the club’s aim was to stabilise this season and, with one or two detours, he is happy with the direction of travel.

“We wanted to improve and be in a position where we could bring players up from the second XV towards the end of the season to gain experience,” said Chugg.

“What we have had almost from day one has been horrendous injury problems, which have ruled players out long term.

“Our second row has been a real struggle with Ben Hilton and now Bryn Jenkins missing, as well as Matt Gohl out since the first week of the season.

“Gareth Evans has a broken jaw while in the backs we haven’t seen Linford Brock for months and Jordan Petherbridge is going to be out for several weeks.

“We don’t have stacks of money to chuck at players – five grand doesn’t go very far at this level – so have to rely on what we have got.

“The upside to our injury problems has been giving game time to second teamers and colts such as Kieran McManus, Mitch Turner, Troy Willis and Alfie Pennyfield, all of whom are making the best of their chances.”

Barnstaple haven’t had a first XV league game since Redruth walloped them 41-0 in Hellfire Corner on December 23.

There was Boxing Day action at Pottington though when Barnstaple defeated Bideford 10-3 in the traditional Christmas derby.

More than a thousand spectators braved the wind and rain to watch the match.

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