SOUTH Molton's hopes of promotion were hit on Saturday as they suffered a home defeat to league leaders Exeter University.
It was only their second defeat in Devon One this season, but one that now leaves them seven points off the top of the table.
The Students took the lead early on through an Oli Ramage try but, having reduced the deficit with a Matt Monaghan penalty, South Molton thought they had taken the lead when Dan Smith powered his way over the line.
However, the referee adjudged that he was held up just short of the try line and when Ramage and Bertie Haskins added further scores, for the University, the Students had a comfortable half-time lead.
South Molton had the better of the second half and got back into the match through a push-over try scored by Smith.
However, Toby Bain got what proved to be the crucial try moments later.
South Molton didn't give up and fashioned another score from the breakdown as Harry Kingdom raced over the Exeter try line.