THE SUMMER search for signings at Barnstaple was concentrated on the forwards.
A new wing was not high on the list of priorities for head coaches Steve Perry and Tom Skelding.
But one who dropped into Barum's lap helped them make a fine start to the National League Three South West season.
Ryan Brend scored a brilliant first try in Saturday's 12-3 win over Redingensians at Pottington Road.
It was one of the highlights of an outstanding team display against one of the usual powerhouses of the division that will give Barnstaple hope they can do more than simply survive this season.
Brend, the 21-year-old former Bideford junior, returned to North Devon this summer and opted to stay in the National League after representing Hartpury College and Richmond in recent seasons – as well as Gloucester A.
Brend showed his talent after just nine minutes of his Barum league debut. There was good pace, strength and handling in the build-up before Ryan Carter's well-timed pass gave the wing just the amount of space he needed to sprint round the outside and fling himself over in the right-hand corner.
Barnstaple had six new signings in their 18-man squad but Brend was the only one among the backs and that showed as, playing off the inventive Steve Perry at fly half, they were quickly into their stride.
Even before Brend opened his account a golden opportunity had gone begging when a kick from Perry put both Luke Berry and Linford Brock clear, but the ball bounced awkwardly between them and Redingensians wing Olly Johnson tidied up.
Eight minutes after his try, Brend could have had a second when Perry's inside pass set him away on a run from his own half that ended only when he was put into touch by Roy Wilkinson with the line in sight.
Barnstaple's new-look pack will have easier afternoons this season.
They were outmuscled by the huge Redingensians forwards in the scrums but Barum were superior in every other aspect of the game.
Heavy rain either side of half time might have favoured the visitors, but they were rarely able to use their strength in areas that hurt Barnstaple.
"We seemed to play in the right areas and do the right things," said Perry.
A penalty kicked by scrum half James Brooks on the half-hour was all Redingensians could muster.
They missed fly half Nigel Gumbleton, who spent the best part of half an hour off the field having a gushing head wound patched up, and looked more threatening when he returned.
After Berry and Brooks had each missed a penalty, the Redingensians pack was for once driven backwards – and it led to a second try for Barum in the 70th minute.
They pushed hard from a lineout and Winston James broke away, only to be held up in the corner. Barum pressed again, though, and a flat pass by Perry allowed Brock to wriggle through before popping the ball up for the excellent Carter to score under the posts. Berry knocked over the conversion.
Barnstaple had to defend with determination and discipline for the closing stages, which included a series of reset scrums on their five-metre line.But Redingensians could not find a way through and their final chance went when hooker Rory Paxton knocked on.
"We defended very well for long periods and managed to keep the ball well," said Perry.
"I was delighted with the pack, they gave us enough ball, and the backs are fantastically quick. When you put them away they can finish."