Barnstaple are top of the shop in National Three South West after their 45-11 win over visiting Newton Abbot.

Defeats for Brixham and Hornets allowed Barum to go past them and Ivybridge to claim top spot on points difference.

Having three of their first four games at home has probably helped Barum get where they are, which is a massive improvement on this time last year.

Barum only won once in their first four league outings and up to Christmas and beyond were grappling to get away from the wrong end of the table.

Skipper Winston James said the squad was much the same as last season with no big signings during the summer making a huge difference.

“Nothing much has changed, other than we are a lot tighter defensively,” said James.

“We have always been good at scoring tries, but the fewer you concede the easier it is to win games.

“A lot of that is down to the hard work put in by Steve Perry (coach) at training.”

James also said there was a bit more strength in the squad as players mature after a season or two in the National League.

“We are getting these results with guys out of the team and now have players who can come in and do the job, which is good news now and for the future when the others come back,” said James.

The first half was relatively even with Newton scoring just before the break to get back to 17-11 down.

Barum crossed for two tries in the space of three minutes early in the second half to kill the game as a contest.

And two late tries put Barum over the horizon.

Newton led from the fifth minute to the 22nd courtesy of a Rob Avery-Wright penalty.

Barum got ahead when Luke Berry chased a kick ahead and Jordan Petherbridge converted.

Petherbridge added a penalty then slotted the extras to a James try at the back of a line-out.

Newton ended the first half with a catch-drive try claimed by Chris Courtier and another Avery-Wright penalty.

The next score came on 52 minutes when James Bath’s trickery at scrum-half led to Berry scoring again.

Petherbridge converted that try and another on 55 minutes by Linford Brock, who ran 50 metres to dot down.

It went quiet until the last five minutes of normal time when, with Newton a man down after Dean Avery was sin-binned, Brock ran in from distance again.

Petherbridge had the final word with a try under the posts that he converted himself.

Barnstaple take a break from league rugby this Saturday to entertain holders Brixham in the first round of the Devon KO Cup.