Brixham’s blunder keeps Barum on top

Barum captain Winston James takes the attck to Brixham. Pic: Bob Collins

Barum captain Winston James takes the attck to Brixham. Pic: Bob Collins - Credit: Archant

Jordan Petherbridge kicked two penalties before half-time to give Barnstaple a 6-0 win over visiting Brixham.

Brixham's try that never was. Pic: Phil Wills

Brixham's try that never was. Pic: Phil Wills - Credit: Archant

The first-against-fourth tussle was a real slog through the mud for both sides – and a test for the shivering supporters from both sides in the stands.

And the only time either side thought there was a try to celebrate, it turned out to be a false alarm.

Victory keeps Barnstaple top of the table with a five-point lead ahead of Lydney and six over Exmouth. Both chasers did not play on Saturday.

Kevin Squire, the chairman of rugby at Barnstaple, said despite the lack of tries it was a cracking game and one that had to be won the hard way.

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“I don’t think we will play a tougher game all season,” said Squire.

“The conditions were poor, the pitch cut up really badly and at times it was a war of attrition.

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“Did we deserve to win? In my view yes – and I am not just saying that because we won.

“Over the 80 minutes we created four real try-scoring chances and they had two.

“They didn’t take any of theirs and, although we did nothing criminal, neither did we.

“The penalties that won it for us were because we were winning the territorial battle and were putting Brixham under pressure.

“There was not a lot in it and Brixham, who I thought were superbly led by Adam Thomas, played a full part in a terrific game.

“Having said that, Brixham can’t really have any complaints.”

The try that never was came late in the second half when Brixham centre Tom McLean burst through on a diagonal run and zipped through the Barnstaple defence.

With the line ahead he dived for it and, having grounded the ball, leapt up to celebrate his try.

“What he didn’t realise was the line he had seen was the five-metre line and it wasn’t a try at all,” said Squire.

“Brixham were just about to start celebrating when they realised what had happened.

“The lad may well have scored. But had he done so it would have been right out in the corner.

“Would it have cost us? I doubt it. It would have needed a hell of a kick in those conditions to get the conversion over.”

McLean’s try-that-never-was became an Internet sensation after the game, as it was caught on camera by Brixham’s club correspondent Phil Willis.

By Monday lunchtime it had been viewed by nearly 600,000 rugby fans all over the world.

To see it for yourself, check out the Rugby Banter page on Facebook.

Adam Thomas, the Brixham captain, said it was the most bizarre thing he had ever seen on a rugby field.

“Tom thought he had scored, I thought he had scored and our supporters in the crowd thought he had scored too,” said Thomas.

“We all started celebrating with Tom when he got up with the ball – then one of the Barnstaple lads went clattering into him.

“We stopped celebrating then and I thought it was going to turn nasty.

“Then, when we saw where the referee was and that play was carrying on, we worked out what happened and got on with the game.”

The Devon derbies are coming thick and fast for Barnstaple this month. Next up for the title challengers is a trip to Newton Abbot this Saturday.

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