KEVIN SQUIRE praised his Barnstaple team for a characterful performance in the defeat to Brixham.
A Barum team missing several first-choice players, including captain Winston James and top try scorer Linford Brock, were beaten 18-16 in Saturday's National Three south west clash at Pottington Road.
Barnstaple might have thought they had done enough to clinch an unlikely win after Will Topps scored a 71st-minute try and they had weathered some late Brixham pressure to enter the last two minutes with a 16-15 lead.
But they were penalised for putting hands into a ruck near their ten-metre line and Ben Lovell, the Brixham fly half, landed a match-winning kick.
Squire, the director of rugby, was disappointed with his side's display in the first half, which finished with them trailing just 7-6 after Jarryd Harris, the Brixham No 8, had scored the first of his two tries.
Squire said: "To even be in the game at half time we were lucky.
"The second-half performance was full of character, we played much better, and it was devastating to lose."
It was the second time this season Barnstaple had been beaten at Pottington Road by a last-gasp penalty kick, following the 24-23 defeat to Redingensians in September.
"It's another refereeing decision that has gone against us but we have got to look at our discipline," he said.
As well as James and Brock, Barnstaple were missing Joe Bussell, Tom Skelding and Ben Vellacott from the team that lost to Weston-super-Mare a week earlier. Kele Taofinu'u played despite carrying a calf injury.
"We had so many withdrawals, with the team we put out we did extremely well," said Squire. "But you are judged on results and unfortunately it's another defeat."