BARNSTAPLE beat Cullompton 22-21 to scrap into the last four of the Devon Senior Cup by the skin of their teeth.

Cullompton led 21-10 early in the second half, but had to make changes in the forwards which weakened the pack just enough to make a difference.

With 63 minutes played Barnstaple had crept into a one-point lead, and there they stayed despite some scary moments on the last lap.

Barum were always favourites to win on current league status, but director of rugby Kevin Squire admitted his team made hard work of it.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Cullompton as they threw the kitchen sink at us and played really well,” said Squire.

“I would say I am astonished they are anywhere near the bottom of their division if that is how they play as they are nothing like a struggling side. They certainly took us by surprise.

“We threw away two tries due to our mistakes and were lucky not to pay the price. In cup rugby the result is everything though and we look forward to playing Exmouth in the next round.”

Andy Knowles, who is Squire’s opposite number at Cullompton, said: “We played all the way to the end and could even have snatched it.

“There were players in the team who have been missing for a while – people like Rob Hammett and Chris Grant – and they made a difference.”

Josh Squire, Johnny Carter, Mark Berry and Dan Lea were the Barum try scorers with Neil Giddy landing one conversion.

With 19 league places across two divisions between Barum and Cully, a close game wasn’t expected.

Cullompton, who are a bit too close to the South West One drop zone for comfort, were 21-10 up after 53 minutes and looking to spring a shock.

A couple of enforced changes in the forwards let Barnstaple get a toehold in the match and two tries in the space of five minutes put them ahead.

There was almost 20 minutes to go when Barum got in front and they had some anxious moments hanging on to what they had. Although they didn’t go through, Cullompton felt justified claiming a moral victory afterwards.

Cully eased ahead with tries at pace for Harry Shadbolt and Tom Frankpitt plus two Ross Toms conversions.

Josh Squire and Johnny Carter replied for the holders, who were 14-10 down at the break – and further behind when Toms goaled an interception try by Shadbolt.

Barnstaple return to National Three action this Saturday with a trip to Oxford Harlequins.