Havant coach Will Knight admits his side face a fight to avoid a second successive relegation after a 22-5 loss to Haywards Heath at Hooks Lane.
The depleted home side found themselves outgunned by the Sussex visitors and are now just four points above the London one south relegation zone.
‘We knew it was never going to be easy but this increases the pressure on us,’ said Knight.
‘Our performance is a result of a culmination of circumstances in a difficult week.
‘Because of sickness and unavailability we ended up making nine changes from the side originally selected.
‘We were pulling in players left, right and centre and that is never easy.
‘Pete Living stepped into the scrum-half position for the first time since he was 18 and he is now 33 years old.
‘It just wasn’t the best time to have all the disruption but you cannot legislate for that.’
The home side knew from the start they were likely to find themselves up against it.
Rob Elsmore, Lewis Osborne and Tyler Anchor were all ruled out by sickness and veteran Dylan Rubenheimer had to drag himself out of his sick bed to play.
With Knight also forced to reshuffle his three-quarters, it was not surprising that Havant looked disorganised at times.
Haywards Heath started well and their early pressure paid off.
They grabbed the lead on 15 minutes, crossing for the opening try.
Within two minutes, the writing was on the wall for the home side when the visitors bundled their way over for another try which was converted.
A third try before half-time left Havant trailing 17-0 going into the break.
The hosts picked up at the start of the second half.
They enjoyed more territorial advantage, though the game developed into a midfield stalemate.
Eventually, Rubenheimer got Havant on the scoreboard with a short-range try giving them brief hope of at least taking a point from the game.
But Havant contributed to their own undoing when they allowed Haywards Heath a late try to pull further away.
‘We were never able to secure enough good quality, first-phase ball to attack them,’ added Knight.
‘Most of the game we were on the back foot with Haywards Heath playing the better rugby.
‘To cap it all we also lost Luke Barfoot with a dislocated knee in the last play of the game.
‘He will now be out for a few weeks and that is a big blow.
‘We still have the bottom sides to play and the players are aware of what they need to do.
‘They are up for the fight and know what is necessary.’