Brixham kick late penalty to beat Barnstaple in tense Devon derby
BEN LOVELL kicked a controversial late penalty to deny Barnstaple a Devon derby victory over Brixham.
A 71st-minute try by Will Topps, converted by Luke Berry, had given Barnstaple a 16-15 lead and set up a compelling climax to the National Three south west clash at Pottington Road.
But when the ball squirted out on Barum's side two minutes from the end of normal time, referee Carl Bennett dismayed the home side by penalising them for using hands in the ruck.
Lovell, the Brixham fly half, had seen a long-range penalty attempt fall short just after Topps's try, but he made no mistake this time and his successful kick gave the visitors an 18-16 victory.
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Barnstaple's already weakened squad was further damaged by injuries to captain Winston James and Linford Brock and the unavailability of Joe Bussell and Ben Vellacott.
Kele Taofinu'u shook off a calf strain to start in the second row, Luke Berry returned on the wing, Ross Williamson came in at scrum half and Phil Gordon made a rare appearance at prop, although he was to last only 26 minutes before a back problem flared up.
Barnstaple were on the back foot for much of a first half that was littered with errors from both sides and they were fortunate to reach the interval trailing only 7-6.
Chey Bryce and Kyle Browne both knocked on in sight of the try line as Brixham played some fast, powerful rugby.
Berry kicked penalties in the 21st and 39th minutes, either side of a try by Jarryd Harris, converted by Lovell.
Harris, the Brixham No 8, powered over under the posts after they opted to take a scrum from a penalty award.
Barnstaple might even have led at the break after running a penalty from their own 22, but Berry was brought down close to the line and Toby Williamson was unable to find a way through from his offload.
The move resulted in a penalty but Berry's effort struck the post.
Kicking and handling far better in the second half, Barnstaple tested their tiring opponents but found themselves 15-9 down with a quarter of an hour to play.
Lovell kicked a penalty on 50 minutes, which was cancelled out by a Berry three-pointer ten minutes later.
Then Harris ran again from a scrum to put Barnstaple under pressure and eventually he squeezed over in the left corner for his second try.
Barum turned the game on its head with a dramatic try that had the home fans roaring their support.
They turned up the pressure with a series of phases near the Brixham 22 before full back Topps made his move, sprinting past three defenders and finishing under the posts to leave Berry an easy conversion.
After the let-off of Lovell's penalty attempt falling short, Barnstaple defended manfully on their line.
Twice they were penalised at a five-metre scrum to raise the prospect of a penalty try, but from the third set piece it was Brixham who were punished.
Barnstaple cleared the immediate danger but, seconds later, Bennett's contentious call gave Lovell his winning chance.