Saturday’s winner-takes-all match in the National Three South West ended in disappointing fashion for Barnstaple.

Barnstaple can’t afford to dwell too long on the 38-24 defeat by Exmouth that cost them automatic promotion from National Three South West.

With the two teams level on points going into the first-versus-second clash, it really was winner takes all.

A game that was in the balance all the way through was settled in stoppage time when Exmouth captain Dave Bargent scored a breakaway try from an interception.

It is the play-offs instead for Barnstaple, who travel to Tonbridge Juddians this Saturday for a second bite of the promotion cherry.

Kevin Squire, Barnstaple’s chairman of rugby, said the main focus now has to be the next game.

“Disappointed though we were to lose to Exmouth, we can’t afford to dwell on it,” said Squire.

“We are lucky enough to have a second chance at winning promotion and all our energies have to be devoted to that.

“No one is going to pretend it won’t be hard lifting ourselves for Tonbridge, but we have to.

“If we win up there, all the disappointment of losing at Exmouth is going to be forgotten very quickly.”

Squire said although the margin of victory looked wide, the reality was the game was much closer.

“If there was a big difference between the sides in any area, I could not see it,” said Squire.

“I don’t think Exmouth were any better than us anywhere. Where it went wrong for us was around the ruck.

“We kept giving away penalties, perhaps that was a consequence of being on the back foot, and when we did Richard Cadywould punished us with the kicks.”

Barnstaple’s penalty count was higher than they would have liked and as the count went up the sanctions escalated.

Matt Gohl and skipper Winston James both had stints in the bin – and Barum paid for them as well.

“You have to give Exmouth full credit for the clinical way they scored tries when we had players in the sin bin,” said Squire.

“Of the four tries Exmouth scored, three were when we were down to 14 men.”

Squire said although the winning margin of 14 points suggested Exmouth were the dominant side, he would dispute that.

“At 31-24 down with time almost up, we were in an odd position that if we drew we would win,” said Squire.

“An equalizing try would give us four and a bonus point – one more than Exmouth had, as they had all our penalties in their total.

“If it finished level we would have had one more point and that would have promoted us not them.

“So we were going flat out for a try and, in doing so, threw them an interception.”