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Five-try Mike Sumner plays his way into Barnstaple team

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

By Andrew Jones

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MIKE SUMNER has played himself into the Barnstaple team for Saturday's National Three south west game against Malvern.

Sumner is set to line up in the back row at Pottington Road after scoring five tries in a 67-12 win at Torquay Athletic in the Devon Senior Cup.

The 26-year-old, who was the supporters' player of the year in 2009-10, has yet to start a league game this season.

Kevin Squire, the director of rugby, said: "You are not going to score five tries and not be tremendous – we have to pick him this week.

"He was heavily involved in the rugby league with North Devon Raiders and that left him jaded at the start of the season with a bit of an ankle injury as well. Now he has recharged his batteries, he's over the injury and he's back training hard and playing well.

"It's great to see him back because he has always been a really good player and his work ethic is inspirational."

Sumner was one of a host of fringe players fielded by Barnstaple at Torquay.

Eight first-teamers will return against Malvern – including fly half and coach Steve Perry who has been out with a knee injury for six weeks.

"It's great to have him back, he really makes the back line tick," said Squire.

Mark Berry, Brad Slade, Tom Skelding, Winston James, Linford Brock, Josh Squire and Luke Berry will also return but Mark Lee is unavailable.

"We will be pretty much as strong as we can be," said Squire. "It's a very important game. I want to make sure we win and keep the performance level up to where it has been for the last couple of weeks before the Newton Abbot game (on November 24)."

Barnstaple dominated from start to finish at Torquay, with full back Will Topps crossing for the first of his three tries in the opening minute.

Ryan Carter, Jimmy Manley and Toby Williamson also scored tries, while Neil Giddy kicked five conversions and Topps one. Torquay scored a try in each half through Alex Jeffery and Jon Woodhead, the second converted by James Wood.

"It was a good opportunity for some of the fringe players and they all took their chance and played extremely well," said Squire.

"At any opportunity we have to make sure we are looking to the future and developing our squad depth."

In the semi-finals, Barnstaple will be away to Sidmouth who beat Paignton 40-3.

Williamson and Josh Lee were in the Devon squad who won 39-12 against Somerset at Bridgwater in the opening Under-20 County Championship match on Sunday.

Barnstaple prop Lewis Joce is recovering in hospital after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest during the Development XV's game at Tiverton. See the front page for the full story.

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