Tom Skelding, Barnstaple’s joint head coach, said he was devastated by their defeat at Brixham.
Russ Morris scored a late try, which was converted by Andy Sandercock, to give the home side a 31-26 win from a superb match.
It was Barnstaple’s eighth successive defeat in Devon derbies in National League Three South West and came after they had led 15-0 in the opening quarter of an hour and 26-24 in the 80th minute.
“I was devastated for the boys,” said Skelding. “We came so close in a great spectacle.
“It swung this way and that but ultimately it is about getting the points and we were within four minutes of doing that.”
The surging runs of prop Morris and Brixham No 8 Jarryd Harris, in his last game before moving to Italy to play for second division club Udine, were a feature of the contest.
“Defence is something we will be looking at because they were coming through the middle rather than outside, which is worrying,” said Skelding.
Barnstaple will be protecting their unbeaten home record on Saturday when their former head coach, Danny Thomas, brings Chippenham to Pottington Road.