A four-try victory would have taken Hastings & Bexhill to the play-offs for promotion straight back to the London leagues.
Instead, their 19-0 defeat at home to Burgess Hill shunted them down to fifth in the final Sussex One table, and ended an up-and-down season on a disappointingly frustrated note.
While there was no lack of effort and endeavour, and a few flashes of individual skill, their clumsy, shapeless and error-strewn performance showed scant progress from the start of the season.
They were comprehensively outplayed by a workaday Burgess Hill side whom they had beaten on every previous clash in recent memory.
It was flimsy tackling that let in the first try 15 minutes into the game, simple handling and hard running breaking through H&B’s defence for a converted score under the posts.
H&B couldn’t get out of their own 22, and a powerful drive by Hill carried them over for a 12-0 lead, which they took into half time.
And it was Hill who had the final word, with a simple third try, created by hard running and accurate hands, batting aside H&B’s despairing defences, to win both the game and the opportunity to play Sheppey for the right to join London Three next season.
Rye, meanwhile, pulled the curtain down on their best ever season in fitting fashion with a 20-15 home victory over East Grinstead II which made sure they finished ninth in the same division.
Rye opened up a 14-0 lead thanks to tries from Chris Cordeux and Dave Blackman, and two Chris Edwards conversions. Grinstead closed to 14-12 at half time, but Rye outscored their opponents 6-3 in the second half.
Three of their points came from an Edwards penalty and the other three via a stunning drop goal from near the halfway line by Alex Satterfield, making a welcome return from university.
Full reports on both matches will appear in tomorrow’s Observers.