Pulborough captain Simon Burfiend has conceded that defeat to relegation rivals Heathfield & Waldron looks likely to have condemned them to an immediate return to London 3 South East.
The Freelands outfit have been battling at the bottom of the table all season after being promoted as champions to this level for the first-ever time last year.
And while there are four games left to play this season, ‘Borough’s 26-14 defeat to Heathfield & Waldron on Saturday, leaves them second from bottom and 15 points adrift of safety.
To retain their place in the division, it is likely Pulborough, who have won just three times all season, would need to win all of their remaining games.
Burfiend said: “Unfortunately, in terms of league standings Heathfield were the team we had to catch for survival.
“Therefore losing this weekend has put a significant dent in our survival hopes. However we have seen strange things happen in the past with leagues. So we will look at the rest of the season on a game to game basis, and look to work and build on combinations to ensure we bounce back even stronger next season.”
Pulborough could not give their gathered vice presidents crowd enough to cheer on their annual day, as a dominant scrum from the visitors told.
Burfiend, who put in a match of the match display on Saturday, added: “Throughout the weeks our performances have been improving and I would say we were there or there abouts this weekend.
“However, a lack of training due to weather, and lack of game time due to weather and the fixtures layout meant we lacked cohesion at times. Often forcing the play and offloads.
“Credit to Heathfield, as they showed at their place they have a very strong scrum and rightly look to attack around this. Which is hard to stop.”
Heathfield’s first score came from a string of penalties where the scrum was taken and pushed over the Borough line. The home side were soon camped back in their own 22, but after negotiating scrums very well, the ball was shipped out to a winger who showed good pace to score on the right-hand side for a 12-0 lead.
Borough found themselves in a very strong attacking position with some strong kick returns by the back three and Frazer Oliphant-Hope ran a great flat line, with Burfiend finding the pass, to carry over two defenders.
Having turned around 12-7 down, Pulborough were keen to score first, but a five-minute lapse saw Heathfield take a 26-7 lead. After some stern words, ‘Borough regained some composure. A kick by returning hooker Gareth Nichols fell to the feet Harrison Short, who managed to pick up under immense pressure.
It was offloaded in the tackle to Burfiend, who managed to force away an offload to Ben Miller. In support was the ever present Nick Haynes, and a few one-two passes the try of the match was scored under the posts.
Burfiend added: “Gareth Nichols returning at hooker massively strengthens the depth of our squad also covering the back row. Jack Leddra had his first game back for the 1st XV since breaking his jaw in the opening game of the season.
“Ollie Burnett was solid at 13 after feeling the need to grace us with his presence, combining well with Brad Game at 12, who ran with great strength.
“Awkwardly man of the match this week was awarded to myself. I would imagine the decision was down to the fact I played my first ever game at nine, with Frazer at fly-half managing to come away with all his ribs in tact and not having slipped a disk bending down picking up balls by his ankles all day.”
Pulborough face Old Alleynians under floodlights in a rearranged fixture on Friday night at Blackheath.
Pulborough: Blunden, Nichols, Gue, Morton, Goring, Bullock, Leddra, Short, Burfiend, Oliphant-Hope, Miller, Game, Burnett, Truscott, Haynes. Subs: Williams, Callaway.