DEPLETED Barnstaple Colts saw their last chance of qualifying for the Devon Cup knock-out stage vanish with a 14-8 loss at Exmouth.
The top four in the league section make it into the cup play-off, which looks unlikely for Barnstaple after a third defeat of the season.
With five games to go though there is still a chance of qualifying for the plate or shield competitions.
Six cry-offs on the morning of the match meant Barum traveled to Exmouth a man short.
Barum went behind to a try up the blind side, but hit back almost immediately with a penalty from Toby Williamson.
Barnstaple had the best of what was left of the half, but were unable to make any inroads into the 5-3 deficit.
Exmouth went further ahead with two penalties, but were unable to take a grip on the game as Barumâ€™s forwards did not let them.
Williamson, by now playing with a knee injury, scored a try on the end of a Ben Vellacott pass to keep Barumm in the hunt.
Coach Andy Gubb was full of praise for his men, saying: â€œOnce again, the lads have shown the heart and determination to succeed and that is all you can ask for.We came up just short again for the second week running, but after such a long lay-off, we are moving in the right direction. I need to mention the performance that Ben Vellacott put in at scrum -half. Ben was outstanding in the second half and kept the forwards and backs moving forward at every opportunity. He has a bright future ahead of him.â€
There was no fairytale ending as just after the score Williamson departed, leaving Barum with just 13 players to complete the comeback.
Despite giving it their all, it wasnâ€™t to be. Exmouth kicked a third penalty to put the game beyond Barumâ€™s reach.
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