SUSSEX 1 leaders Pulborough RFC saw their title aspirations take a knock with a shock home defeat to Seaford.
The hosts played some free-flowing rugby in the first half but could never shake off their dogged visitors, who got their noses in front for the first time with around 25 minutes to go and dug in to win the match by a single point, 19-18.
For once Boro’s kicking let them down, as the usually prolific Alex Ryan missed all three of his conversion attempts and two of three penalties, the last with the chance to win the game three minutes from time from a position he would have expected to score.
Boro failed to make better use of their vastly superior possession and coach Phil Jennings admitted basic errors cost his side. He said: “At the end of the day it came down to points from the boot. Two penalties missed, one slightly out of range but the second should have gone over, and it’s a different story, we would have won the match.
“But Seaford came with a job to turn us over and they did that. They outmuscled us in the pack on the ground and they defended very well and two lapses in our defence gave them 14 points.”
“We continually seemed to attack down the middle and their centres tackled very well, when we did go wide we scored but there were too many mistakes as well, basic errors.”
Boro scored three first-half tries through Mickey Clary, Greg Ryan and Alex Ryan and led 15-7, but failed to pick up any extras, and Seaford’s two converted tries saw them trail by just a point at the break.
An Alex Ryan penalty at the start of the second half briefly extended the gap, but when Ben Cox dashed over to put the visitors ahead Boro struggled to release their backs and failed to find another breakthrough despite those late penalty chances.
It was Boro’s third league defeat of the season and sees their gap at the top cut to five points with six games to play. Still second-placed East Grinstead II will not be able to take the single promotion place, making Holbrook - who thrashed Chichester III 72-5 - their nearest rivals to go up, some 15 points behind.
Pulborough will be hoping for a return to form when they host Surrey 1 side Croydon in the Junior Vase at Freelands.