THERE was only one point between Barnstaple and Bracknell when they last met at Pottington Road.
Nearly five years on nothing could separate them as an entertaining clash finished in an 8-8 draw.
In January 2009, a Bracknell pack inspired by former England forward Chris Sheasby drove over for a last-play try that clinched an 18-17 win.
This time it was Barnstaple who came from behind, but Toby Williamson's second-half score was only enough to earn a draw as Barum's repeated attempts to get over the line again came up short.
Steve Perry, Barnstaple's joint head coach, felt it was two points dropped. Having dominated the first half just as much as Barum did the second, Bracknell would have felt the same.
Matt Down was drafted into the back division to give Barnstaple the goal-kicking ability they thought could make the difference in a tight game. But it was the man who replaced Down when he hobbled off with a knee injury shortly before the break who got the vital points.
Seven minutes into the second half, Williamson, making his first appearance of the season, grabbed a loose ball and sprinted down the left wing to score.
"I was in the right place at the right time – loitering, really," said Williamson, who backed himself to beat Liam Prescott having noticed while watching from the touchline that the Bracknell full back "didn't have that much gas".
"I got knocked out in training before the first league game, so I had four weeks out for that, then two weeks with the Development XV.
"It was nice to come on and have an opportunity to justify my selection in the first team."
Getting into Barnstaple's talented back division is a tough job this season, which will only get tougher when Linford Brock returns from a fractured ankle.
"When we're firing on all cylinders we have one of the best back lines in the league," said Williamson.
Perry usually runs the show at fly half but, by his own admission, the player-coach had a dreadful first half and his errors spread through the team with dropped ball and wayward passes.
The repeated turnovers gave a strong Bracknell side, who went into the game in second place in National League Three South West, help they did not really need.
Down had the first scoring opportunity but drilled his sixth-minute penalty wide. Prescott made no such mistake two minutes later.
A comfortable away win looked the most likely outcome as Bracknell swarmed all over Barnstaple's ball carriers and made incisive breaks through centre Neil Higgins and flanker George Milligan – but they only led 8-3 at half time.
Price, the inside centre, got the try on 28 minutes when Bracknell attacked from a lineout and he stepped inside a tackle and reached out to touch down.
Barnstaple responded well with Ryan Brend streaking away from the halfway line and trying to find Ryan Carter coming up alongside him, only for Bracknell wing Stuart Mackay to slap the ball down. As Down hobbled off, Will Topps stepped up to knock over the penalty.
He was off target with another attempt three minutes into the second half but Barnstaple's tails were up and the home fans were roaring them on.
After being dislodged from Brend's grasp by a big hit from Price, the ball found its way to Williamson and he did the rest to level the scores.
Some fine rucking under his own posts by Dave Kimberley, who had an outstanding game at No 8, launched a counter-attack through Topps and Williamson and a spell of pressure with a series of five-metre scrums and a hint of an opening for Brend that was shut down by Mackay.
Bracknell were held up from a catch and drive and the final match-winning opportunity fell to Williamson.
After slipping out of a tackle and kicking ahead on the left touchline, he found he could not pick the ball up at full pelt.
He had already done enough to ensure Barnstaple remain unbeaten at home this season and in the division's top five. Now Williamson just hopes they do not get stuck in the mud.
"We're trying not to let ourselves get carried away, given the position we were in last year when we performed well and let it dip," he said.
"We kind of change with the weather, especially us backs.It's hard for us to pull off the wider moves in wet weather and mud.
"So we have to knuckle down for winter and keep it tight rather than doing the fancy stuff."