History on Barnstaple's side ahead of Exmouth clash
History will be on Barnstaple's side as they set out to upset Exmouth in tomorrow's Devon derby at Pottington Road.
Their recent results suggest the visitors will start as firm favourites.
But Barum can boast an unbeaten record in their last five home league games against their rivals from South Devon.
Barnstaple's biggest margin of victory was 33-11 in October 2007. The last two fixtures have brought the closest margin (four points) with a 16-12 win in February 2011 and 17-13 in September the same year, the opening day of last season.
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More pertinently for tomorrow's fixture (2.30pm), Barnstaple have lost their last four matches in National Three south west while Exmouth, in third place and chasing promotion, have lost only once since September.
They have also had the better of the recent fixtures between the sides, winning three on the trot, including a chastening 29-8 defeat for Barnstaple at Pottington Road in last April's Devon Senior Cup semi-final.
Kevin Squire, the Barnstaple director of rugby, is aware a win for his side would be viewed as a real surprise.
"We have always beaten them at home in the league but it is safe to say they are edging ahead and pulling away from us," he said. "It would be a surprise but we are at home and they have no right to come and boss us around."
Jon Hill, the Exmouth coach, is preparing his side for a tough afternoon.
"Few clubs in our division have players as experienced as Steve Perry and Tom Skelding," he said. "I expect both to ask us a few questions."
Colts scrum half Calum Sumners will start for Barnstaple as they are without Ben Vellacott, on Exeter Chiefs Academy duty, and new signing James Bath, who broke his hand while playing for Exeter College this week.
Barnstaple v Exmouth last five league meetings at Pottington Road – Oct 2007: Barnstaple 33 Exmouth 11. Apr 2009: Barnstaple 18 Exmouth 10. Sep 2009: Barnstaple 19 Exmouth 3. Feb 2011: Barnstaple 16 Exmouth 12. Sep 2011: Barnstaple 17 Exmouth 13.
Bideford host a derby of their own when Okehampton visit King George's Field tomorrow (2.30pm).
Pat Sanders will start at fly half for the home side in the absence of Stefan James (work commitments) and Olly Wickett (shoulder).
Andrew Loosemore returns to captain Bideford from inside centre after passing a fitness test on the knee problem that kept him out of last weekend's win at Kingsbridge.
Okehampton were beaten on their previoous visit to Bideford – last season's Devon Intermediate Cup final.
They have gone five games without a win in Tribute Western Counties (west), while Bideford are unbeaten in ten, but they fought back from 27-0 down at half time to draw 27-27 in the home fixture.
South Molton bring in Matt Smart for their home Devon One match against Totnes (2.30pm) after Matt Monaghan damaged a shoulder ligament in the win at Torrington.
Torrington will seek to pull away from the relegation battle when they go to fellow strugglers Topsham tomorrow.