Positives have been hard to find for Barnstaple in recent weeks – but Mark Galliford’s return has been a reassuring sight.
Not so long ago he was one of the first names on the teamsheet.
Galliford took a break from rugby in 2012-13 and played football for Boca Seniors in the North Devon League.
Back in the oval-ball game this season, the 29-year-old full back or wing appeared for the Development XV before injuries and unavailability saw him return to the first team.
He has started the last two matches and scored a try in Saturday’s 42-10 defeat at Amersham and Chiltern.
Joint head coach Steve Perry said: “When you have players missing it gives other guys opportunities.
“Gally has just come back on the scene and he did really well. He is a really good club man, a talented individual and can bring a bit of experience.
“It’s nice to have an older head in the back line but it will take him some time to get back used to it.”
Galliford’s try, after 51 minutes, was his first for the first team since November 2011. He cantered away after Ryan Brend made a break down the blind-side at a centre-field scrum.
That cut Chiltern’s lead to 18-10 but they then ran in 24 unanswered points to beat Barnstaple for the first time since joining National League Three South West.
Tom Shiel scored a hat-trick of tries for Chiltern who have risen to sixth place with three successive wins.
Ross Bugden and Matt Craggs also scored tries, while the rest of the points came from the boots of Craig Burgess and Jack Kenyon.
With Will Topps, Luke Berry and Matt Down unavailable, Barnstaple were already without a regular goal-kicker. And when Perry suffered a hand injury early on, they were left without a recognised fly half as well.
For most of the game they had two young forwards in the back division – Mike Peek on the wing and Scott Warren at inside centre.
The pack was missing the experience of Mark Berry, Gordon Howells and Tom Skelding, while lock Matt Gohl went straight into the team without training after returning from an overseas trip.
Despite the upheaval, Barnstaple briefly led 5-3 in the first half when Oli Mason, playing in the second row, took a quick tap penalty to score his first try for the club.
“Oli is doing really well,” said Perry. “He is improving every week.”
Mason has been selected to train with the Royal Navy squad.