UNITED SERVICES’ promotion dream is all but over after a late penalty saw them beaten 13-12 at home by Eastleigh.
It was a first Burnaby Road loss of the league season for US.
But player coach Simon Burns felt the manner of his team’s display against powerful opponents was praise worthy.
He said: ‘My players gave it everything but in the end it wasn’t to be.
‘We have come on in leaps and bounds this season because this is a game we would have lost by about 20 or 30 points last year.’
Services dominated the tough encounter early on.
Home skipper Matt Davis required stitches to a head wound as the match proved a physical contest.
Prop forward Burns almost opened up the Eastleigh defence to create the opening score.
But, after his break from the back of a scrum, his pass to winger Nick Bentley was adjudged forward by the referee.
With the visitors guilty of ill-discipline, Services full-back David Flynn knocked over two penalties to give the home side a 6-0 lead.
Services wing-forward Julian Baker excelled, putting in hit after hit to thwart Eastleigh’s attack.
But Eastleigh finally grabbed the only try of the game on the stroke of half-time.
Two further Services penalties and one from Eastleigh left the home side leading 12-10 with just minutes left.
But it was the visitors who snatched the win.
‘Eastleigh were quite astute at shutting the game down,’ said Burns.
‘We had two or three opportunities to win the game but didn’t take them.
‘After dominating possession and territory for almost all the first half we let them in for a try just before the break.
‘Eastleigh had a few old heads in their side and managed to disrupt a lot of what we tried to do.
‘Their wing-forward was very good and they didn’t allow us a lot of time or room in the midfield.’