RUGBY PREVIEW: Exmouth are warned to expect real battle
Barnstaple have warned Exmouth to expect no favours in the eagerly-awaited National Three South West Devon derby at Pottington Road.
While Exmouth are still pushing for a top-two place and the possibility of promotion, mid-table Barnstaple are going nowhere this season.
Barnstaple may have lost four on the trot, but have a sizeable 17-point safety net between them and the bottom three. Kevin Squire, Barnstaple's director of rugby, admitted Exmouth are favourites – but that will not stop him and his team trying to turn them over tomorrow.
"I said at the start of the season after we lost down there that Exmouth are a fine side and I would put money on them going up ," said Squire.
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"They have worked hard putting a squad together and have been getting the results they deserve – and good luck to them. Clearly they are favourites, but we will use every trick in the book and strain every sinew in an attempt to bring them down.
"It might not be enough, but we will have a go."
With new scrum-half Sam Bath out due to a broken hand, Barum give a debut to colts number nine Calum Sumners.
Exmouth coach Jon Hill is used to hearing Squire rattling sabres before games and is happy to be labelled favourites, although with qualifications.
"The last few encounters between us have been close, but we have edged all three. It is hugely important for us if we want to progress up the table that we continue that run.
"What I would say is few clubs in our division have players as experienced as Steve Perry and Tom Skelding. I expect both to ask us a few questions."
Newton Abbot have to pick themselves up after a 25-20 defeat by Old Patesians for the long trip to Oxford Harlequins. Also in need of a pick-me-up after a home loss are Brixham, who entertain Chippenham looking to bounce back from a defeat by Weston.
Taunton can put some distance between themselves and the National Two South drop zone by beating Lydney at Regentsholme.
Lydney sit in the third drop spot, one point below Taunton, who have two games in hand.
The season is about to reach a critical stage for Taunton. Coach Tony Yapp believes they are in good shape for after winning at Clifton then giving second-placed Hartpury a run for their money. "We probably left 20-30 points out on the pitch against Clifton – and the Lydney result [27-11] was skewed by them scoring a late try when we were going all out for the losing bonus point," Yapp said.