Matt Davis felt a lack of discipline led to United Services’ 20-12 RFU Senior Vase defeat by Heathfield & Waldron at Burnaby Road on Saturday.
The home side fell 15-0 behind in the first half of the knockout encounter.
Phil Gilliland started the fightback with a try early in the second half.
But in the end it proved too little, too late – much to the frustration of Davis.
‘We gave away far too many penalties,’ said the director of rugby.
‘At the same time, we failed to use the elements when they were in our favour in the first half and gave them far too much space to play in.
‘It was only when we turned around in the second half, against the wind, we started to play some rugby.
‘We had to run with the ball because it was pointless kicking into the wind.
‘That was when we stepped up our game and played our best rugby.
‘We had two 18-year-olds making their debuts in the three quarters – Tom Nixon and Sam Masters – and both had great games.’
Despite having the wind behind them in the opening 40 minutes, Services turned around 15-0 in arrears at the break.
Gilliland got the home side on the scoreboard 15 minutes after the restart – ith Tom Blewitt kicking the conversion.
Another forwards try reduced the deficit to three points before the East Sussex visitors stretched their lead with a try of their own.
Services applied all the late pressure but couldn’t find another breakthrough.
Hampshire one basement side Locks Heath Pumas suffered a damaging 5-3 home defeat against fellow relegation-battlers Petersfield.
Pumas coach Nathan Moore admitted his team have given themselves a mountain to climb in their bid to stay up.
‘Staying up isn’t impossible but we have made it very difficult for ourselves,’ said Moore.
‘We dominated long spells of the game but failed to take our chances when they came along.
‘Our discipline, which has let us down in the past, was good but the decision making was poor.
‘It was one-way traffic in the second half but we couldn’t make it count.
‘Credit to Petersfield, though, because their defence absorbed a lot of pressure.
‘All we can do is keep the faith and not allow ourselves to become disheartened.
‘It won’t be easy because our next four games are all against the top sides.’