BARNSTAPLE are already looking ahead to next season as the dust settles on the current campaign.

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Barum’s National Three programme ended at Exmouth last Saturday with a 39-10 defeat by their arch rivals.

The game was done and dusted by half time as Exmouth were sitting pretty on a 31-10 lead.

Matt Garner went in twice – once in the corner and once under the posts – and there were tries for Dave Kimberley, Ross Moorshead and Mark Wathes, who followed up a charge-down to score.

Winston James went over for Barum in the 18th and 31st minutes.

The first scoring action after the break was a 61st minute try by James, followed by another for Luke Berry.

Exmouth had the last word when Kimberley went over and Andrew Powell slotted a fourth conversion.

Kevin Squire, Barum’s director of rugby, said it was clear the squad needed strengthening.

“I didn’t think they were that much better than us, certainly not like the Devon Cup semi-final on Easter Saturday, when they stuffed us at our place,” said Squire.

“There was a five-minute period before half time when Exmouth scored three tries very quickly – two of them from our mistakes. One came when a Will Topps kick was charged down, the other from a handling error in midfield.

“Exmouth still had some work to do to score the tries, but without our mistakes they wouldn’t have been in those positions. Take out those three tries and it is a much closer game.”

Barnstaple are destined for fifth in the table – a big improvement on fourth from bottom last term – but Squire could be happier.

“We were going along quite nicely until the cup semi-final against Exmouth, then a few of our limitations were exposed,” said Squire.

“When a few players are out we don’t have the strength in depth to cover for them,

“The last three weeks have been a bit of a wake-up call for the team management and have underlined the need to strengthen. I am close to announcing two new signings in the next few days and a couple more are in the pipeline.”

Priorities for Squire are replacing prop Phil Gordon, who has retired, and scrum-half Neilson Webber, who has been strongly linked with a move to the Cornish All Blacks, having informed Barum he won’t be around next season.

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