RUGBY PREVIEW: Injuries hit Barum ahead of Quins trip
Barnstaple have an early season injury crisis to grapple with before their National Three South West opener at Oxford Harlequins.
Hooker Sam Roberts, flanker Gary Turner and locks Tom Skelding and Matt Gohl are all sidelined due to knocks picked up in pre-season games.
And with seven members of last season's 1st XV gone, either to retirement or transfers, it will not be the same Barum side that finished fifth last season.
Director of rugby Kevin Squire said there were challenges ahead for what he believes will be the youngest side in the division.
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"We have got the backs to do the business if we can win some ball, but with an inexperienced forward pack that won't be easy," said Squire.
"Fifth place last season was an over-achievement. This season's aim is to get the youngsters coming through bedded in."
Newton Abbot, at home to Chippenham tomorrow, have a simple aim for 2012-13: finish above the other Devon clubs.
The All Whites were seventh out of 14 in the final table, behind Exmouth (fourth) and Barnstaple (fifth), having been top dogs in Devon the season before.
"You are always looking to improve and we can do that by finishing the top club in Devon this season," said director of rugby Roy Henderson. "We look strong in some departments, such as the back row where Brett Stroud is back and the emergence of Josh Vickridge gives us real strength and competition for places."
Promoted Brixham know the challenge ahead in National Three South West will be raising the pace of their gam, starting with a trip to Old Patesians.
Brixham saw what was waiting for them at the end of last season when they ran into new National Three rivals Exmouth in the Devon Cup final – and lost 28-15 having rushed into a 12-0 lead early on.
"We know the pace we will have to play at this season and our pre-season games have been encouraging on that front," said director of rugby James Irvine.
"We went to Lydney last Saturday, who are in the division above us. It ended in a 17-all draw and our boys were disconsolate in the dressing room afterwards that we hadn't won as we were two scores ahead with ten minutes to go."
Exmouth have the tricky task of improving on their best season so far in National Three South West when the new season starts with a trip to Malvern.
"There is no point in me saying where I hope we will finish in the table, other than as high as possible," said head coach Jon Hill.