Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club missed the chance to pull clear of the division’s lower reaches on Saturday.
H&B could have been 10 points above opponents Gillingham Anchorians in London Three South East had they recorded a bonus point win, but a heavy 37-7 away defeat meant they dropped below their opponents on points difference into the bottom two.
“It was unbelievably disappointing,” said H&B head coach Kevin Smith. “We needed to win and I’m afraid we didn’t do ourselves any justice at all. We played poorly from one minute 45 seconds to the last 20 seconds of the game.
“Good hands and being able to tackle is the mainstay of the game, and we couldn’t do anything on the day. If a ‘flu epidemic was the equivalent of missed tackles, we had a 100% casualty rate - it was that contagious. There was endeavour, but even when we looked like we could do something, we fluffed our lines.”
Gillingham began the day having lost all of their previous five league games this season and forfeited a London & SE Senior Vase first round tie away to H&B earlier this month, but they took less than two minutes to get their noses in front.
The Kent side went over for a second try before Steve McManus raised H&B hopes with a try from close range which was converted after 25 minutes. Gillingham struck again just four minutes later, though, and dominated thereafter.
“They were a good side; they’re certainly not a bottom side,” added Smith. “Whereas on our performance you would say we were. We didn’t go into it lightly either; we know every team is going to be hard.”
Rye Rugby Club, meanwhile, went down 22-5 at home to Chichester III in Sussex One. A late try from Louis Barker couldn’t prevent Rye from suffering a fifth successive defeat.