BARNSTAPLE continued their pursuit of Exmouth at the top of the table with a hard-earned 24-10 win at St Mary's Old Boys. St Mary's shot off into a 10-0 lead during the first 20 minutes when, it seemed, Barnstaple were still in the team bus. By half t

BARNSTAPLE continued their pursuit of Exmouth at the top of the table with a hard-earned 24-10 win at St Mary's Old Boys.St Mary's shot off into a 10-0 lead during the first 20 minutes when, it seemed, Barnstaple were still in the team bus.By half time Barum were 14-0 up and they closed out the game after the interval without ever being in too many problems.Matt Slee cut through a flailing defence for Barum's first try. Neil Giddy converted.When the Barum pack drove up to the line, the maul ended with Mark Berry thudding to the deck for a try, Giddy converted that try as well.The game was as good as won and lost when Dan Ewing set up Jamie Lewis for a dash over from 30 metres. Giddy converted that try and a penalty as the game slipped away from St Mary's."For the first 20 minutes we were still on the bus and it took us that long to get our act together," said director of rugby Kevin Squire."Matt Slee scored a well-structured try for us and we seemed to switch on after that."Once we started the second half 14-10 up I was much more confident and couldn't see us losing."It was a workmanlike win, but we had a job to do and we did it in difficult conditions and I am happy with that.Barnstaple will be holding a minute's silence before this Saturday's game against Taunton to remember winger and former Devon captain Mike Blackmore, who died suddenly on New Year's Day.Blackmore's funeral is scheduled for St John's Church, Instow, near Bideford at 2pm this Friday.l TORRINGTON won the first half but lost the second in a combined U16 and U17 game against visiting Okehampton.With Torrington suffering late withdrawals due to illness and work commitments, Okehampton kindly lent players to make the sides up.Torrington opened the scoring with an Adam Thorne penalty then went 10-0 lead when one of the borrowed players crossed after an excellent run. Adam Thorne converted.Okehampton hit back with an unconverted try before excellent rucking by the Torrie forwards lead to prop Lancaster crashing over for a try. Thorne converted again.Okehampton hit back again, scoring in the corner, to leave Torrie 17-10 up at half time.With a few players swapped around during the interval, Okehampton started the second half in determined fashion.Torrie had to defend well to keep Okehampton out, while managing to make a couple of chances of their own. Wing Hayden Bellamy nearly outpaced the defence following an excellent kick by fly-half Thorne.Eventually, Okehampton pressure told and they levelled the scores with a converted try following some good work by the backs.As the Torrie players got tired, the game opened up Okehampton scored three more tries, two of them converted to finish an excellent match 36-17 winners.Torrington's Tattersalls Property Management Man of the Match was fly-half Thorne for his all-round play and excellent tactical kicking under pressure.