Havant suffered their first London one south defeat of the season with a 30-17 reverse at Chichester on Saturday.
The visitors did not help their cause by having Rob Cuffe sent off early in the second half for a second yellow card offence.
Havant head coach Will Knight felt the handicap proved too much for his side, although they still pushed Chichester to the close.
‘Effectively we shot ourselves in the foot,’ he said.
‘It was always going to be a big ask to beat a team of Chichester’s quality with 14 men.
‘We gave it a really good go but were always chasing the game.
‘Up until the sending off it had been a close encounter and even after it we still had plenty of territory.
‘But being a man short meant we struggled to find that incisiveness needed to break through.
‘The players threw a huge amount of commitment into it and remained competitive throughout.
‘Chichester, however, were clinical when they got their chances and a bit better than us on the day.’
Chichester started on the front foot and opened up with a try inside the first three minutes.
The home side’s outside-half was sin-binned for his second high tackle of the game on 10 minutes.
Havant winger Jay Wilks then went over for a try in the corner, with Joel Knight adding the conversion as the visitors opened their account.
And while Chichester restored their lead with a couple of penalties, Havant scored the next try.
Excellent combination play between backs and forwards ended with Cuffe going over for a try – again converted by Joel Knight.
Cuffe received his first yellow card for a ruck offence before a Joel Knight penalty gave Havant an 18-17 lead at the break. It all turned sour for Havant at the start of the second half, though.
After the visitors conceded another try, Cuffe returned – but almost immediately picked up his second yellow card for another ruck offence.
Chichester soon took advantage to score their final try of the game.
‘It was disappointing because even in the second half we had the edge in the scrums,’ said Will Knight.
‘A few times we got ourselves into good positions only to throw it away.
‘Our players will learn from this – particularly some of the younger ones. Chichester will be one of the contenders at the end of the season and we were not a million miles away from them.
‘They will certainly hold no fears when they come to our place later in the season.
‘It is how we react to our first defeat which is important now.
‘No team is going to go through the season unbeaten.
‘We just have to make sure we win the games we should be winning.’