Barnstaple’s position at the top of National Three South West has become stronger without them playing a game.

Barum were not due to play a game on Saturday, but chasers Lydney had a game in hand against Bournemouth to shift.

Bournemouth won 14-5, which left Lydney needing three wins to get ahead of Barnstaple into top spot.

Exmouth, six points behind Barum in second place, won’t have been broken-hearted by the Lydney result either.

With nine games to go there is still time for things to change at the top, but the odds on a Devon one-two for Barnstaple and Exmouth look promising.

Barum could go up automatically as champions, a prospect the club is just starting to plan for.

Kevin Squire, Barnstaple’s chairman of rugby, said the backroom team are trying to avoid getting too far ahead of themselves.

“Unlike some of our rivals, we didn’t stake our claim for promotion at the start of the season,” said Squire.

“We thought we would have a good season, but to be where we are and where we have been for so long has taken us by surprise.

“Because promotion wasn’t our stated aim, we don’t feel under any pressure to make sure we go up.

“Promotion is a daunting prospect and we know there would be big challenges ahead.

“While we haven’t prepared for promotion, we feel the club has the infrastructure in place to deal with promotion.

“Right now we are happy being under no pressure, relaxed about our position and enjoying our rugby – long may it continue.”

Barnstaple return to league action this Saturday when Old Redcliffians visit Pottington Road.

The Bristol side are not among the frontrunners, but have enough games in hand to press for the play-offs if they win them.

Barum hope to have stand-off Issac Hydleman back after injury. He trained last week after a month on the sidelines.

Back-row powerhouse Chris Lowrie has been unavailable due to work commitments, but expects to be free this Saturady.

Lock Bryn Jenkins is clear to play after a two-week rest following a bang on the head and player-coach Steve Perry is available again having had family commitments for a couple of weeks.