With no score on the clubhouse board by half-time, a win against the odds for relegation-threatened Pulborough over Sussex rivals Uckfield looked a real possibility.
The injury-ravaged hosts even came close to scoring the opening try soon after the restart but from there conceded three unanswered tries as the visitors ran out 22-0 victors.
“It was a real chance, everybody thought at half-time it was winnable,” said skipper Richard Nicholls, one of about 20 players missing through injury.
“The guys were massively disappointed not to push on and beat a fellow Sussex side in front of a strong home crowd.”
After a scoreless first half which had seen both side defend resolutely, Uckfield got off the mark first with a penalty not long after the restart.
Pulborough then lost influential centre Euan Calloway to a shoulder injury and then missed a great chance to cross the white line first.
Some strong tackling saw the hosts steal back possession, and when it was shipped back to fly-half Burfiend he sent a deft kick forward for winger Al Ryan to give chase.
The ball’s bounce on the Uckfield 22m line evaded the covering defender and looked to put Ryan in the clear, but in wet conditions it just slipped from his grasp at the crucial moment.
“Those sorts of things either go your way or not and unfortunately it didn’t that time, but the more chances like that you create the more you’ll score and we didn’t create enough for the rest of the match,” Nicholls said.
And from there a return to their usual running style of rugby saw them register three unanswered tries as Pulborough tired.
A return straight back to the Sussex leagues looks increasingly likely for Pulborough, with games against Horsham and Tunbridge Wells remaining.