Kevin Squire labels his Barnstaple boys a team for the future
ANDREW LOOSEMORE, the Bideford captain, returned from injury to score a try in a bonus-point win over Okehampton that took his side five points clear at the top of the Tribute Western Counties (west) table.
With second-placed St Austell's game at Wellington postponed, the Chiefs took full advantage with a 34-13 victory at King George's Field.
It means Bideford's home match against St Austell on Saturday, March 9, will give them the chance to go ten points clear.
Dave Harris, the manager, said: "At the moment, we are in the ascendancy. Points on the board is better than having games in hand."
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Kevin Squire has promised Barnstaple fans they will be rewarded for their patience.
The director of rugby's inexperienced team went down to a fifth straight defeat in National Three south west.
They led 13-8 after a fine first-half performance against promotion-chasing Exmouth but were overpowered in the second half, conceding four tries to lose 34-18.
Squire said the visitors' performance was a glimpse of things to come for Barnstaple.
"This is hurting everyone, including the supporters," he said. "I can't thank them enough for sticking with us through these difficult times.
"Their patience will be rewarded in the long run. This team will be really something special in the next two or three years. This is a side for the future.
"Our boys are going to have days like that if we can keep them together.
"At the moment, Exmouth are pulling away from us at an alarming rate but they can't sustain what they are doing, they are running out of time."
Barnstaple scrum half Ben Vellacott has been named in a 30-man Scotland squad for a training camp in Hamilton on Sunday and Monday.
From that group, a team will be selected for a match against England at Darlington on March 2.
Vellacott, who lives in Mortehoe, qualifies to play for Scotland through his mother, Sandra Vellacott.
Last March, he was man of the match for Scotland under-17s in a 33-15 defeat to England.