Published: 10:01, 11 October 2021
| Updated: 10:04, 11 October 2021
By David Haigh
Canterbury ended a run of two defeats to claim their second National League 2 South win of the season in the Devon sunshine.
In a game that was always tight on the scoreboard, a try from the last play of the afternoon, scored by replacement wing Dave Heads, ensured the most deserving side took the points.
The gap might have been greater had Canterbury made the most of a high-tempo first quarter which kept Barnstaple fully occupied, but somehow the finishing touches were missing.
All looked good when a catch and drive and then slick works by the backs saw Kyan Braithwaite score the first of his two tries and Frank Reynolds converted. That was after 15 minutes and the city side continued to pose a real threat with ball in hand.
They went close but frustratingly that was all. When Barnstaple finally broke free they levelled matters with a driving maul try for hooker Nat Bayet and a Jake Murphy conversion.
By half-time it was still stalemate after Reynolds and Murphy exchanged penalty goals but a yellow card for Barnstaple centre Johnny Carter, for a deliberate knock on, gave Canterbury an advantage they did not waste.
Four minutes after the break Reynolds carved an opening and Braithwaite was on his inside shoulder to take the scoring pass but that five-point lead looked fragile as Canterbury delivered their least impressive period and began to look unsure of themselves.
Basic errors, dithering and unwanted penalties handed momentum to the home side and it was left to some outstanding defensive work, with special mention for back row trio Sam Rogers, Will Hunt and Tyler Oliver, to hold them off.
Scarcely a tackle was missed but, having survived, the city men regained control in the late stages. They might have settled for running down the clock, but with the seconds ticking away a charge by young prop Will McColl set up a promising position. It was exploited to the full as Heads was given a clear run to the posts and Reynolds' kick capped a much better day at the office.
Canterbury host Leicester Lions this weekend.