Barnstaple back Mark Berry to be top of the props against Brixham
KEVIN SQUIRE believes Barnstaple will have the edge when two experienced props meet in tomorrow's National Three south west clash with Brixham.
Mark Berry, Barnstaple's 33-year-old front-rower, will be up against Ryan Hopkins, the 32-year-old former Plymouth Albion man, in the Devon derby at Pottington Road (2.30pm).
Hopkins, released by the Championship club last month, has joined Brixham while he studies to become a teacher.
Squire, the Barnstaple director of rugby, said: "He will be playing against Mark Berry, who is the best loosehead at this level.
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"Mark will be more than a match for Ryan Hopkins, irrespective of his calibre."
Tiverton-born Hopkins started out with his home-town club before spells with Exeter and Nottingham. He signed for Albion in 2004.
After being released from his contract in December, Hopkins made his debut for Brixham in the 27-8 win over Avonmouth Old Boys on Saturday.
Phil Gordon, 33, will make a rare appearance for Barnstaple at tighthead in the absence of Joe Bussell.
Barum hope back-five forward Kele Taofinu'u will be recovered from the calf strain he suffered in the warm-up ahead of Saturday's defeat to Weston-super-Mare.
Barnstaple are likely to be without scrum half Ben Vellacott, who is set to play for Exeter Chiefs under-18s in their Academy League game against Saracens at Truro College tomorrow.
"We're a much better side when Ben Vellacott is playing for us," said Squire.
"He gets the ball away from the ruck so quickly, I don't think I have ever seen such good service from a scrum half at Barnstaple.
"It's a game we would love to win and a game we are dreading the thought of losing.
"Of the three Devon sides in this league, Brixham are the one closest to us in league position but they are putting sides away who we are not quite putting away."