Week off may help Barum see the light
BARNSTAPLE hope a break from training and playing will help them emerge from their "dark space".
Barum suffered a fourth successive defeat on Saturday, losing 10-6 at Chippenham.
PENALTIES: Grant Tuhakaraina.
Reading's defeat at Oxford Harlequins made it certain the North Devon side will remain in National Three South West next season — but that is little consolation to a club that had hoped to make inroads into mid-table this term.
Instead, they may have to win at Exmouth on the last day of the season to ensure they do not finish as the worst of the rest.
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To do that — and retain the Landscape Devon Senior Cup — they will have to regain the confidence that helped them to their last win, against second-placed Old Patesians in February.
With no match scheduled for this weekend ahead of an Easter league and cup double header, director of rugby Kevin Squire has given the players a week off.
"There will be no training and maybe the break from each other will give the players a chance to reflect on their individual performances," he said.
"We're in a dark space at the moment and I'm hoping a break will allow everyone to refresh themselves.
"I hope the lads will come back from a week off, hit the ground running and find some form to do something in the Cup because if we continue to play in the vein we are at the moment, we won't go anywhere.
"Confidence is low and that is really influencing everything we do when we are on the ball.
"We've never really struggled for confidence in recent years.
"We've lost more than our fair share of games at this level but we have always had a performance in among it that has inspired us. That's been sadly missing for a while."
Chippenham, who join Reading and Maidenhead in dropping out of the division, took the lead in the third minute with a penalty kicked by Dom Riccio.
They had the better of the first half, but Barum, playing against the wind, defended well and were happy to turn around trailing by just three points.
Dominating possession and territory after the break, Barnstaple should have been able to end their run of defeats.
They went ahead with two penalties from fly-half Grant Tuhakaraina and had the advantage of an extra man when Chippenham forward Adie Price was sin-binned.
But Barum could not get the ball over the tryline — twice they were held up after catch-and-drive moves.
Chippenham's breakaway try in the 75th minute was a bitter blow, Karl Brant finishing a move that started in his own half by touching down under the posts. Riccio converted.
"It just isn't happening for us," said Squire.
"It was another match we were expecting to get something from and we got nothing apart from a bonus point — and that was scant consolation.
"There are some big games to come and we could still salvage something (in the Cup), but overall we have to admit the season is one of underachievement."