It looked like the Cross-in-Hand side, promoted from South West One, were going to claim a second successive victory in their new league, having beaten Old Patesians 13-9 at home in their opening game.
Ivybridge were 23-18 up with time almost up at Pottington Road, but Barnstaple, who had stunned Exmouth last week, scored a late converted try to win the game.
“It was very disappointing,” said Ivybridge team manager Neil Thomson. “They scored a try in the last two minutes and converted it.”
Ivybridge, though, did pick up a bonus point from the first of five consecutive Devon derbies.
“At the end of the season bonus point are going to be valuable,” said Thomson.
“Our target is to stay in this league and we need every point we can get. Bonus points do mount up.”
One point though was small consolation for Ivybridge, who led for large spells of Saturday’s game.
Two Matt Grieveson penalties had given them a 6-3 lead at half-time.
Barnstaple scored a converted try 10 minute after the interval.
“We knew they would come out blazing after half-time and they did,” said Thomson.
But Ivybridge hit back on 62 minutes when Joe Walker scored an unconverted try after good work by Grieveson.
That put the visitors 11-10 in front but Barnstaple kicked a penalty to edge ahead again.
Yet back came Ivybridge with a try by captain Jay Geraty after a clever chip kick by player-coach Lewis Paterson bounced well for Ben Watts, who fed his hooker to score and make it 16-13.
Barnstaple edged two points in front in the 71st minute. But Ivybridge thought they had won the game when replacement Tom Scoles went over straight after coming on. Grieveson brilliantly converted to put Ivybridge 23-18 in front with only a few minutes remaining.
But, unfortunately, they just could not hold on for what would have been a great win.
“Barnstaple were very relieved and their supporters were very complimentary about our play,” said Thomson.
Devonport Services are the early leaders of Western Counties West after their claimed their second bonus point win of the season.
Having opened their campaign with a home victory over Wadebridge, they then went and beat Truro 38-21 at the Rectory.
Rocky Young, Kelli Bainlvalu, Ben McGowan, Stu Bartlett, Alex Lambert and Jack Evans scored tries for Services, with Matt Anstis kicking four conversions.
The only other team with maximum points in that division is Gareth Evans’ Okehampton, who claimed a 30-29 win at Exeter University.
Saltash are off the mark following their promotion. They had narrowly been beaten 20-14 by last year’s runners-up Kingsbridge on the opening day, but they bounced back with a hard-fought 20-16 away win at Cullompton.
The Moorlands Lane side had been 17-6 up thanks to tries by Todd Croft and Will Morton and seven points from the boot of Max Venables, but Cullompton hit back to set up a few nervous moments for the Ashes.
Plymouth Argaum find themselves second in the Cornwall/Devon League following their promotion.
Argaum led 21-3 at the break thanks to tries by Mason Edwards, Mike Hunt and Jake Turfrey, who finished off a good backs move. Turfrey converted all the tries.
He also added another try after the interval, along with further touchdowns from Hunt, Dave Hall and Kal Bloomfield. Turfrey, having a good day with the boot, converted all but one of Argaum’s seven tries.
Plymstock Albion Oaks, who were promoted from Devon One along with Argaum, got off the mark in the Cornwall/Devon League with a 25-8 away with at Bodmin. Kirk Tunnicliffe, Jack Hardman and Joe Marshall scored tries for them.
However, there was more disappointment for Tavistock, relegated last season from Western Counties West, as they lost 42-14 at Pirates Amateurs.