Chinnor got back to winning ways this week with a 17-15 victory away at Barnstaple.
The North Devon outfit had already beaten Taunton, Henley and the Wild Geese at home this season but the Villagers were determined to get back to form to stay within range of the top two.
Chinnor made four changes with prop Tom Price starting and Jamie Townsend back at hooker. CJ Osazuwa returned in the second row, Henry Lamont on the wing with Kieran Goss moving to full back.
Thrashed 76-5 by Chinnor in September, Barnstaple seemed in danger of another heavy defeat when lock Nathan Hannay crashed over for Chinnor’s 100th try of the season from close range in the second minute, with the conversion added by Basil Strang.
But Barum are made of sterner stuff these days, particularly at home, and hit back immediately to level the scores. Bryn Jenkins made a break, Linford Brock reached the five-metre line with a wriggling run down the left and then Topps took a long pass from Jake Murphy to step through on the opposite flank and score.
Isaac Hydleman added the conversion and a penalty in the 11th minute to give Barum a 10-7 advantage.
Fly-half Strang put Chinnor back in front two minutes later when he went through a gap and slipped Kevin Angell’s tackle to score under the posts. He converted but Barnstaple finished the half on the front foot.
Quick ball off a line-out near halfway and a neat inside pass by Perry to Topps got Barum motoring before Matt Gohl surged over.
Barnstaple edged it 15-14 at the break but they turned round into a strong wind and struggled to get out of their own 22 for much of the second-half even when Chinnor were reduced to 14 after flanker Richard Thorpe was red carded in the 49th-minute for a stamp.
The visitors continued to dominate but an upset looked on the cards as the seconds ticked away. Will Topps, Jordan Petheridge and Bryn Jenkins all made try-saving tackles for Barnstaple but despite their best efforts, they could not quite see it through until the end.
With two minutes remaining, Barnstaple were penalised for a ruck infringement which Strang duly converted to give Chinnor a last-gasp 17-15 victory.
Elsewhere in National League 2 South, Bishop’s Stortford beat Old Elthamians in a thrilling finish to leapfrog their opponents and regain top spot.
Chinnor stay third with local rivals Redingensians next up at Kingsey Road.