BARNSTAPLE were on the end of a 39-3 hammering at Exmouth on Sunday in the final of the Devon Senior Cup.
It was the widest winning margin in a county cup final since Plymouth Albion defeated Devonport Services 47-12 back in 1987.
Five minutes into the game Barnstaple went down to 14-men when lock Matt Gohl was shown a straight red card by referee Sara Cox for a dangerous tackle.
From then on Barnstaple were fire-fighting and the only mystery was how it took them so long to buckle under the strain.
Twice in the second half Barnstaple went down to 13 men due to yellow cards – Mickey Sumner first, then prop Mark Berry – and only then did Exmouth really turn the screw.
Barnstaple never stopped trying – some of their best rugby came when they were 32-3 down – but Exmouth were over the horizon by then and the back slapping had already started in and around the technical area among the subtitutes being rolled on and off.
Kevin Squire, who is standing down as Barum’s director of rugby now the season is over, said the early red card didn’t help, but he had no complaints.
“Five minutes in, we went a man down and just went flat after that,” said Squire.
“I didn’t see the incident that led to Matt being sent off, but none of our players made a big issue of it, which says something.
“With 15 on the park it was going to be a struggle against the best side in Devon. Going down to 14 then 13 for 20 minutes killed us.”
Exmouth were only 10-3 up at the half-time interval thanks to tries from Matt Ryan and Garry Hooper sandwiched either side of a Luke Berry penalty.
Mike Wilson, Stuart Lowe, Andrew Powell (2) and Dave Bargent crossed in the second half, with Richard Caddywould adding two conversions.
Exmouth coach Jon Hill paid tribute to Squire after the game, saying he will miss his old rival on the circuit next season.
“It was unfortunate that our dominant performance happened to fall on Kevin Squire’s last game in charge of Barnstaple,” said Hill.
“He is a great rugby person who has Barnstaple rugby running through his veins and I have always enjoyed his banter and his company over the years.
“Kevin is a very passionate man, only wanting what is best for his own rugby club, and will be sorely missed.”
Current player coaches Steve Perry and Tom Skelding have been named as Barnstaple’s new management team following Squire’s retirement.